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ONLINE News Briefs


Fraud and Abuse, Spending, Credit Cards, Real Estate, Privacy, Our Web Poll


ONLINE News Briefs

Fraud and Abuse: This Houston doctor may wish he’d hidden a file in his baked goods

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 services–including more than $400,000 in electrocardiograms–that 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.

Spending: Uncertain times make Americans conservative

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 they’re now more interested in personal savings, and a quarter are more interested in paying off debt. Some 36 percent say they’ve lost interest in making luxury purchases, and 29 percent have less interest in buying lottery tickets.

Credit Cards: Online shoppers get more protection

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, you’ll 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 . The program will work with Microsoft Windows 95, 98, ME, XP, or NT Workstation 4.0, but not with a Macintosh computer operating systems.

Real Estate: Looking for a good place to relax?

The 10 most popular spots for a vacation home aren’t all warm and sunny, says EscapeHomes, an online vacation-home resource. Among the top picks by its Web site visitors, in alphabetical order:

Ashland, OR
Boise, ID
Bodega Bay, CA
Hilton Head, SC
Kiawah Island, SC
Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Orlando, FL
Palm Springs, CA
Santa Fe, NM
Scottsdale, AZ

Privacy: Mopping up after your name has been stolen could cost you plenty

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 don’t report any monetary losses, thousands of consumers say they have rung up costs as high as $10,000. The victims say they’ve 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 they’ve 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.


Our Web Poll

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.

Medical Economics


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Jennifer N. Lee, MD, FAAFP
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health