Stop Medicare Fraud!
Through Montana SMP, senior volunteers help fellow seniors become pro-active consumers identifying potential mistakes, abuse or fraud in medical billing. The volunteers use Montana SMP tools to teach seniors how to understand their Medicare Summary Notices and to compare them with other health care bills to determine any balances owed. Montana SMP volunteers also give presentations in the community to help educate consumers, their families and caregivers about waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare system.
Click here to read a recent article in USA Today about SMPs fighting fraud.
The Montana SMP program is statewide and has coverage in over 44 counties in Montana. If you know of any seniors that are having difficulty with their health care bills or are interested in learning more about our program, have them contact their Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-551-3191 for a local volunteer. The Program Manager, Renee Labrie, based out of Missoula Aging Services, may be reached at 406-728-7682. Or click here for more information: www.smpresource.org
The Administration on Aging (AoA) is dedicated to promoting consumer awareness, preventing elder victimization, and working to implement community partnerships to prevent Medicare and Medicaid fraud, error, and abuse. For more information, go to this site: http://www.stopmedicarefraud.gov/
Since 1997, the SMP program:
- recovered $4.5 million in Medicare funds
- reported over $3.1 million in savings to beneficiaries
(April 2008 OIG Report)
Missoula Aging Services resource specialists may be able to refer you to a helpful attorney if the need arises. We have a list of attorneys in the Missoula area with practices that focus on senior issues such as estate planning, wills and advanced directives. We have also identified attorneys that offer sliding fees and reduced costs for fixed or low-income clients.
Call Missoula Aging Services at 728-7682 for more information.
Many elderly still are denied their basic rights and benefits and suffer abusive situations ranging from financial exploitation to severe neglect. Do you know your rights? If you feel that any of your rights have been violated, or you've been treated unfairly in some way, or something just doesn't seem right, call our Senior Help Line. We can help you sort out the issues. If there are grounds for a complaint, the Senior Help Line Specialists can move into action. They may supply information, suggest solutions or assist you in pressing for action and change.
Consumer Fraud affects everyone. Fraudulent telemarketers and scam artists tend to target seniors more than other members of our society. That is why we inform seniors when there is news of a potential fraud and advocate for those who have been a victim.
Click for News Items & Fraud Alerts.
Consumer Protection Office http://www.doj.mt.gov/consumer/
The table that follows is taken from the above link and lists a number of common problems and the appropriate place to seek help.
Please also be aware that the staff of the Office of Consumer Protection cannot serve as your attorney.
|Issue||Concerning||Agency Responsible||Phone Number (406 area code)|
|Advertising, deceptive and misleading||Prohibited forms of marketing including false claims and "bait and switch." Go to filing consumer complaints.||Office of Consumer Protection||444-4500;
|Antitrust||Antitrust issues, including price fixing, monopoly abuse and restraint of trade.||Office of Consumer Protection||444-4500;
|Banking||Title loans, payday loans, credit unions, finance companies, state banks, mortgage broker and loan originator licensing.||Commissioner on Banking||841-2920|
|Business registration||Whether a business is properly registered in Montana.||Secretary of State||444-3665|
|Car and truck sales and repair||Problems with new and used cars and trucks, including repair, towing, warranty and New Vehicle Warranty Act (Lemon Law) violations. Go to Vehicles and the Lemon Law.||Office of Consumer Protection||444-4500;
|Charities and nonprofit organizations||Registration requirements. Go to For Nonprofits for a summary of the laws relating to nonprofit corporations and charitable trusts.||Secretary of State||444-3665|
|Telemarketing, solicitation and advertising restrictions/regulations. Go to Telemarketing Regulation for nonprofits and Telemarketing for Consumers.||Office of Consumer Protection||444-4500;
|Contractors registration||Requests for registered contractors.
For tips on how to find the best contractor for your job, go to Choosing a Contractor.
|Employment Relations Division, Department of Labor & Industry (DLI)||444-7734|
|Credit management services||Debt consolidation, debt settlement, credit counseling and pre-bankruptcy counseling. Go to Credit Counseling Services.||Office of Consumer Protection||444-4500;
|Digital Television||The February 2009 switch to digital-only television transmission, ending analog broadcasting. Go to the FCC's digital television website.||Federal Communications Commission (FCC)||(888) 225-5322
TTY: (888) 835-5322
|Discrimination||Sex, age, race and disability discrimination in work, housing and access to government services and facilities.||Human Rights Bureau, DLI||444-2884;
|Door-to-door sales||Any sale that did not take place at a location owned by the business involved. Go to filing consumer complaints.||Office of Consumer Protection||444-4500;
|Foreign lotteries||To report phone calls, e-mails or mail indicating that you have won a foreign lottery.||U.S. Secret Service||245-8585|
|Gas pricing||Complaints about gas prices, including price fixing or gouging, and illegal dealing in the gas trade.||Office of Consumer Protection||444-4500;
|Gas pumps||Accuracy of gas pumps.||Weights & Measures Bureau, DLI||841-2240|
|General state government||Questions about government agencies other than the Department of Justice.||Citizens' Advocate||(800) 332-2272|
|Health care professionals||Services provided by state-licensed health care professionals, including doctors, dentists, chiropractors, alternative practitioners, hearing aid medical examiners, optometrists, pharmacists, psychologists, etc.||Healthcare Licensing Bureau, DLI||841-2300|
|Identity Theft||Steps to take if you suspect that someone has stolen your identity. Go to Identity Theft.||Office of Consumer Protection||444-4500;
|Insurance and securities||Car and house insurance, securities fraud, multi-level marketing, title companies and pyramid schemes.||State Auditor's Office||444-2040;
|Internet||Online sales, including e-Bay; Internet fraud, including phishing; buying prescription drugs online, and spam. Go to Internet Security.||Office of Consumer Protection||444-4500;
|Landlord/Tenant||Tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities, rental agreements, security deposits and eviction. Go to For Tenants and Landlords.||Go to For Tenants and Landlords for referral to appropriate agencies.|
|Money orders||To verify a money order or report fake money orders received as contest "winnings."||U.S. Secret Service||245-8585|
|Nonprofit organizations||See Charities and nonprofit organizations entry above.|
|Phone services and utilities||Telephone charges or changes such as slamming and cramming; power and utility companies.||Public Service Commission||444-6150;
|Professional and occupational licensing||Services provided by state-licensed professionals, including architects, cosmetologists, electricians, outfitters and guides, plumbers, private security officers and investigators, real estate agents, etc. Also see Health care professionals entry above.||Business & Occupational Licensing Bureau, DLI||841-2300|
|Telemarketing||Phone solicitation, Montana's do-not-call list, unwanted faxes and business registration. Go to telemarketing for consumers and businesses.||Office of Consumer Protection||444-4500;
|Tenant/Landlord||See Landlord/Tenant entry above.|
|Unfair acts by a business||Changing a contract after a sale, abusive arbitration and debt collection misconduct. Go to filing consumer complaints.||Office of Consumer Protection||444-4500;
|Vehicles||See Car and truck sales and repair entry above.|
|Wage and hour disputes||Overtime pay, workers compensation, withholding paychecks and minimum wage violations.||Labor Standards Bureau, DLI||444-5600|
|Water wells||Problems with a well's operation, including contamination.||Water Resources Division, Department of Natural Resources & Conservation||444-6643|
Federal Trade Commission http://www.ftc.gov/ The Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency, collects complaints about companies, business practices, identity theft, and episodes of violence in the media.