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Fraud and Abuse, Spending, Credit Cards, Real Estate, Privacy, Our Web Poll
A federal grand jury has indicted a Texas physician on 23 counts of health care fraud. The 71-year-old surgeon is accused of delivering baked goods to residents of low-income government housing for the purpose of obtaining their Medicare and Medicaid information. According to the indictment, the doctor then allegedly used 48 of those Medicare numbers to bill the federal government for servicesincluding more than $400,000 in electrocardiogramsthat were never performed.
If convicted, the doctor faces prison time of up to ten years and fines as high as $250,000 for each count.
Many consumers changed their spending habits after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, according to a survey sponsored by the Consumer Federation of America and Bank of America. A third of the respondents say theyre now more interested in personal savings, and a quarter are more interested in paying off debt. Some 36 percent say theyve lost interest in making luxury purchases, and 29 percent have less interest in buying lottery tickets.
Visa is the first of the large credit card companies to offer a password system that helps online shoppers feel more secure. If you shop at a Web site that participates in the Verified by Visa program, youll be asked to type in a password before your transaction is approved. If the site does not participate, or your card is not eligible for the program, you can complete the transaction as usual.
To register your card in the program, go to www.visa.com . The program will work with Microsoft Windows 95, 98, ME, XP, or NT Workstation 4.0, but not with a Macintosh computer operating systems.
The 10 most popular spots for a vacation home arent all warm and sunny, says EscapeHomes, an online vacation-home resource. Among the top picks by its Web site visitors, in alphabetical order:
Bodega Bay, CA
Hilton Head, SC
Kiawah Island, SC
Marthas Vineyard, MA
Palm Springs, CA
Santa Fe, NM
Identity theft can cost victims thousands of dollars to clear their name and restore their credit, according to data collected by the Federal Trade Commission. While most who file a complaint with the FTC dont report any monetary losses, thousands of consumers say they have rung up costs as high as $10,000. The victims say theyve had hefty expenses for copies, notary fees, mailing expenses, phone calls and attorney fees. Consumers are generally not held liable for any fraudulent debt.
Alost 15 percent of the victims also report that identity theft caused them non-monetary harm, most commonly a denial of credit or financial services or a loss of time. A few victims even say theyve been arrested for crimes committed by the thief who stole their identity.
Identity theft has been rising over the past few years. The number of calls answered by the Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse went up from 445 a week in November 1999 to 3,000 a week last December. To report a case of identity theft, call the FTC Clearinghouse hotline at 1-877-ID-THEFT.
Based on the relations you've had with your malpractice insurer lately, if you were sued would you expect to be:
Pressured into settling
Encouraged to fight it
Eventually allowed to fight it, but not without a battle
Yvonne Wollenberg. ONLINE News Briefs.