DMHS warns consumers about scam
Several Drew County residents have recently been victims of a phone scam operation. People posing as employees of Drew Memorial Health System have contacted multiple residents, attempting to sell them credit cards and obtain personal information.
This practice is a form of telemarketing that impersonates a local phone number that does not reflect the original caller’s location. In this instance, DMHS’ administration has been made aware of calls to local numbers which show up on caller ID as being from “Drew Memorial Hospital,” despite the fact that the hospital has no affiliation with the actual entity placing the call. The Federal Communications Commission prohibits the practice of disguising an actual telephone number to mislead consumers as to the true caller’s identity and the service or product being sold.
The calls disguised as being from the hospital have been reported to include a conversation with a person identifying herself as staff member “Christy,” who encourages the individual who answers to consolidate their credit cards. Other scams imitating the hospital’s phone number may also be in practice.
“The hospital would never call patients or other community members with the intent to sell any product or service,” DMHS Chief Quality Officer Jodie Efird said, “and any similar calls should be reported as spoofing immediately.”
The danger in spoofing scams is not just that the caller may impersonate a business in order to sell to a consumer, but also that their product or service being sold is questionable or does not exist.
Further, caller ID spoofing can be used to perpetrate identity theft by convincing a consumer that he is dealing with a trusted source over the phone.
“While we are aware of only a couple of incidents related to the ‘spoofing’ calls, we take the issue very seriously,” DMHS Chief Compliance Officer Jenny Guthrie said.
“It is our objective to ensure the privacy, integrity, and security of our patients’ information and to provide our patients with excellent service.
“Any patients who have concerns about their account(s) with DMH or question the validity of a call claiming to be from Drew Memorial Hospital regarding their account(s) can hang up and call us back directly by dialing 870-367-2411, extension 4800. Our staff is aware of the situation and ready to assist you.”
In many cases, Drew Memorial staff do require personal information when speaking with patients about their accounts. However, “if you have any concerns about a call you have received and are not sure whether it is legitimately from Drew Memorial, you can always hang up and call our main number and ask to speak to a financial counselor,” Efird noted.
The hospital’s main phone number 870-367-2411 is staffed by an operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Any suspicious calls should also be reported to Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office or directly to the FCC at 888-CALL-FCC (225-5322) or at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov. Noting the actual phone number on caller IDs by writing it down or taking a screen shot, if using a mobile phone, may be helpful in filing complaints.
For more information about spoofing scams and other consumer alerts, contact the AG’s office at 800-482-8982 or view their resources and online complaint forms at arkansasag.gov.