The OIG issued a Fraud Alert recently—but it didn’t warn about improper referral arrangements or billing for medically unnecessary testing. It was a warning that scammers are representing themselves as the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General employees. They even manipulate caller ID functions to make it look like the call is originating from the OIG Hotline. The caller then tries to get victims to provide or confirm personal information that can be used to commit fraud. The OIG advised that it does not use the Hotline to make outgoing calls but emphasized that “it is still safe to call into the HHS OIG Hotline to report fraud.” Anyone who receives a scam phone call from the Hotline should report it to the OIG, through the Hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Victims can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
On a related note, the OIG’s most recent Eye on Oversight Video focuses on Medical Identity Theft, spotlighting the “fastest growing form of identity theft”—theft or unlawful use of someone’s personal information such as name, social security number or Medicare number. Medicare Numbers and protected health information “can be considered more valuable than credit card information,” according to the video, used to bill for expensive services never provided or overbill Medicare. The OIG emphasized that medical identity theft costs American taxpayers billions of dollars and cause delays or denials of services. To combat such theft, Senior Medicare Patrols educate the public and Medicare members on how to prevent, spot and report fraud.