Friday, March 4, 2016
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In This Issue
Fraud in the News
The following are current news articles about health care and fraud issues.

Consumer Fraud:

Please share this Fraud Alert with colleagues, consumers, or other professionals in your area. If you have any questions about the Illinois SMP program, or to receive these Fraud Alerts directly, please contact Jason Echols, Healthcare Consumer Protection Coordinator at AgeOptions.
This project was supported, in part by grant number 90MP0216, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy. 

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Dear SMP Readers, 


In this week's Fraud Alert, National Consumer Protection Week is next week, the FTC has tips on how to write a complaint letter, and CNNMoney begins an investigation into a worldwide scam.


Have a great weekend!

National Consumer Protection Week Begins March 6

National Consumer Protection Week 2016_ Your Information Destination Logo

March 6-12 marks the 2016 National Consumer Protection Week. According to the official website (, this coordinated campaign "encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions." Visit for free consumer protection resources and information about local events.

At the Illinois SMP, we empower Medicare beneficiaries in Illinois to take advantage of their rights as health care consumers and Medicare beneficiaries. Here are a few tips on how to be an empowered Medicare consumer:
  • Always work with your doctor if you need health care services or products. Medicare will only pay for things that are medically necessary. Your doctor can prescribe 
  • Never give your Medicare number to someone who calls you on the phone. Medicare will never call to ask for your Medicare number (they already have it).
  • Beware of "free" Medicare offers. If someone offers you medical equipment or services in your home from Medicare for "free," they will bill Medicare in your name and possibly prevent you from getting that equipment or service when you actually need it. 
  • Read your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) which is mailed to you every three months (if you have used Medicare in that time). Look for things that you never received or that are different than what you actually received.
  • If you find potential fraud on you MSN or believe you have been the target of fraud, call the Illinois SMP at AgeOptions (800)699-9043.  
For more tips and information, visit the Illinois SMP website at
Want to Complain? Here's How to Write an Effective Complaint Letter

If you have ever had a problem with something you have bought or had repaired, you know that it can sometimes be frustrating to resolve the issue. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that you first contact the company to try to resolve the issue. If a phone call or email do not do the trick, you may need to write a complaint letter. The FTC has tips about how to write an effective complaint letter on their blog. 

If you have had problems as a health care consumer, it may be best to first talk to your health care provider or your own doctor that you know and trust. You can call the Illinois SMP at AgeOptions at (800)699-9043 if you believe that that potential health care fraud has occurred.
CNNMoney Investigates One of World's Longest Running Scams

CNNMoney recently began a multi-part series of investigative reports into a worldwide scam that has taken hundreds of millions of dollars from people worldwide. The scheme involves a supposed psychic named Maria Duval who convinces people around the world that she is their friend and to send her money. But is she a real person or is it just an elaborate scam? 

The first two parts of this series are available on CNNMoney beginning with "Chapter One: Who is behind one of the biggest scams in history?" You can sign up with CNNMoney to receive email updates about this continuing series by clicking here.

AgeOptions Ideogram


Jason B. Echols, MSW,
Health Care Consumer Protection Coordinator
1048 Lake Street, Suite 300
Oak Park, IL 60301
phone (708)383-0258 fax (708)524-0870


AgeOptions, the Area Agency on Aging of Suburban Cook County, is committed to improving the quality of life and maintaining the dignity of older adults and those who care about them - through leadership and support, community partnerships, comprehensive services, accurate information and powerful advocacy.

Fraud Alerts contain information about current scams taking place in Illinois, announcements and updates about programs or services related to health care and/or fraud protection, and links to news articles about health care and fraud topics. Please forward any recommendations or announcements that you would like to be included in a future Fraud Alert to