The Office of Vermont State Auditor Tom Salmon, CPA, introduced an updated website today for citizens and state employees with ideas for savings or concerns about potential fraud, waste or abuse in government programs. These are not ordinary financial times, said Auditor Salmon in a statement. It has never been more urgent to remind everyone involved in government spending that the money comes from the people and should be spent wisely and efficiently, he noted.In addition to fraud suspicions, the hotline and website will accept ideas for improving government services and reducing costs. In the face of rising costs and diminishing resources, state government today needs ideas for lowering costs and improving services, said deputy State Auditor George Thabault. Auditor Tom Salmon wants to remind any citizens, state workers or recent state retirees that they can get their ideas to us confidentially if they d like, he said. We ll review them and try to get them considered at the right levels. We also want to highlight that people can report instances of possible fraud, waste and abuse with confidential reporting at the Auditor s website (www.auditor.vermont.gov(link is external)) or toll-free hotline (877-290-1400), he said. Thabault said the Auditor s Office will typically perform an initial review of allegations, but that serious fraud cases will be referred to the Attorney General s Office.Thabault said fraud is intentional deception or misrepresentation that an individual makes knowing it to be false, and may result in unauthorized benefit payments either to that individual or to some other person. There is a wide range of acts that may constitute fraud under federal or state laws. Abuse does not necessarily involve fraud and other law-breaking, Thabault noted, but it typically refers to actions that are deficient or improper when compared with behavior that a prudent person would consider reasonable or a good business practice. Abuse also includes misuse of authority or position for personal financial interests or those of an immediate or close family member or business associate.Deputy Thabault said some waste can be easy to spot, such as excessive energy consumption or purchasing products that are never used, while other examples are hard to detect initially, such as duplication of effort, failure to use available technology, poor process design, saving initially on products that actually have high life-cycle costs, unnecessary overtime, etc. Eliminating waste helps provide a department or agency more resources to fulfill its mission, Thabault said.Included on the Auditor s web site is information on how to report various potential frauds or instances of waste and abuse:Medicaid Provider Fraud (call 802-879-5900 and ask for the Program Integrity Unit)Medicaid Beneficiary Fraud (call 802-241-2826 for the Fraud & Quality Control Office of the Dept. of Children & Families): Examples of beneficiary or provider fraud include intentionally trying to defraud the program by various means including providing false information, such as actual residence or income; selling supplies, equipment or medications; using stolen Medicaid numbers; tampering with prescriptions; and submitting claims for services or items not furnished.Unemployment Insurance Fraud (call 802-828-4333): This fraud can occur when someone receives unemployment benefits they are not entitled to, or when companies misrepresent employees as independent contractors, or intentionally misreport wage income.Workers Compensation Fraud (call 802-828-2997): This fraud can occur when someone receives workers’ compensation benefits that they may not be entitled to, or when a company intentionally misrepresents the activities of employees to secure a lower workers compensation insurance premium.Food Stamp Fraud (call the Economic Services Division district office nearest you see below for listing): Food Stamp fraud is the intentional misrepresentation, concealment or withholding of information in order to get food stamp benefits. It is fraud to sign any papers (such as an application for benefits, a questionnaire, or recertification papers) in which the information in the papers is not true.Vendor Fraud (call 877-290-1400): Vendor fraud can occur when invoices to State agencies and departments contain significant intentional errors or when a claim for payment for services or products provided is false.Social Security Fraud (call 800-269-0271 or www.socialsecurity.gov(link is external)): This can occur when individuals conceal work activity while receiving disability benefits, or when a person receives benefits for a child not under their care, or makes false statements on claims.