Louisiana Hotline Aims to ‘Stamp Out Fraud’

State government agencies in Louisiana hope to encourage citizens to report fraud by starting a statewide “Stamp Out Fraud” hot line, the Associated Press reported.

The toll free number gives Louisiana residents someone to call with allegations of anything from food stamp fraud and tax evasion to padded insurance claims and elections irregularities.

“Cheats out there need to know Louisiana’s taxpayers are turning an eye on their activity,” Gov. Kathleen Blanco said.

More than 20 billboards are going up around Louisiana to publicize the hot line—1-866-FRAUD05 or 1-866-372-8305—and a corresponding Web site that lists types of fraud and links residents to different government entities where they can report fraudulent activity.

A link to the “Stamp Out Fraud” campaign is located at www.louisiana.gov.

Blanco said the increased push for to root out fraud in Louisiana is part of the state’s effort to tackle its budget shortfall. Fraud costs the state and its citizens millions of dollars each year, she said.

“It’s an expense we cannot afford, but it is an expense we can end,” the governor said at a press conference announcing the launch of the campaign.

For example, fraud is estimated to cost the average Louisiana household an extra $950 per year in their insurance premiums, according to Insurance Commissioner Robert Wooley.

The eight agencies participating in the hot line include the insurance department, attorney general’s office, secretary of state’s office, labor department, health department, social services department, revenue department and state police.

Each agency already has individual programs that investigate and research different types of fraud accusations. Those who answer the statewide anti-fraud hot line will direct citizens to the proper entity and number to report fraudulent activity.

Existing staff at the labor department’s workers’ compensation fraud unit will staff the hot line, and the agencies will split the cost of the $20,000 media campaign, state officials said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.