Southcoast Health is warning the public about a scam that has been becoming more frequent.
In a public service announcement, the group stated that there has been a steep rise in fraudulent robocalls targeting patients on a local, regional and national scale. Perpetrators are calling from what look like local phone numbers, claiming to be from a patient’s healthcare provider. The scam callers use stolen and readily available information from the internet and social media to convince victims of their legitimacy. These scam calls usually ask for credit card numbers, social security numbers and other personal information from patients and their family members. Unsolicited robocalls are illegal in Massachusetts, and Southcoast Health is providing this information to help its patients and community defend against fraudulent scam calls.
Southcoast Health will generally only ask for personal information, such as a patient’s name, date of birth, address and credit card numbers, in the following situations:
(1) For pre-registration of a patient for an appointment or procedure at Southcoast Health; or
(2) As part of a collection call regarding a bill for services received at Southcoast Health.
Pre-registration or appointment calls from Southcoast Health will include specific knowledge (date, time, type of procedure and location) of a service. Southcoast Health may ask screening security questions about a patient’s name, date of birth and address, to confirm the patient’s identity. Pre-registration calls may include a request for payment of a deductible or service charge ahead of a procedure. Patients will have the option to securely pay over the phone with a credit card or make other arrangements for secure payment, but if you are uncertain about whether a call is legitimate please do not share your credit card information with the caller. Patients should keep in mind that one difference between a Southcoast pre-registration call and a fraudulent scam call is scammers should not be able to articulate details regarding a procedure or appointment, whereas a representative of Southcoast Health will have specific information about the patient’s scheduled procedure or appointment, and history of services.
Southcoast Health’s billing department or collection agencies calling on its behalf will always be able to confirm the location and date(s) of service(s) a patient received for the bill in question. Southcoast Health’s billing department, and collection agencies, may also ask for name, date of birth and address to confirm a patient’s identity. Patients will have the option to securely pay over the phone with a credit card or make other arrangements for secure payment. A scam caller will not likely be able to supply details on their false claim, so you are encouraged to ask questions of callers who claim to be from Southcoast Health. If you are uncertain about whether a call is legitimate please do not share your credit card information with the caller.
If you receive a call claiming to be from your healthcare provider and the caller cannot confirm accurately the service you are being charged for, or provide details on the services you’ve received, the call is likely a scam and you should hang up immediately.
Here are some tips to reduce your risk of getting scammed:
Ask for details about the bill or service without supplying specific information that scammers can use. When was the appointment? With who?
Ask for a phone number you can call back to confirm the request is legitimate and from Southcoast Health. Hang up, and call back.
If you owe a balance on a bill from Southcoast Health, you can confirm the amount owed and pay the bill using MyChart.
Pay your bill using MyChart to avoid paying over the phone altogether. If you are called regarding a bill but are uncertain about sharing your credit card information over the phone, you can pay through MyChart instead. Representatives of Southcoast Health are available to help you use MyChart.
Add your phone number to the National Do Not Call List here and the Massachusetts Do Not Call List here.
Southcoast Health will never ask for your full social security number over the phone – at most we may request confirmation of the last four digits. If a caller requests your full social security number over the phone, it may be a scam call.
Certain populations may be more susceptible to these scams or more likely to be targeted by them, including senior citizens, immigrants and non-native English speakers. Southcoast Health will never threaten deportation or jail time for having an outstanding bill. If you or a loved one receives a call making such threats, it is likely a spam call.
Southcoast Health takes patient privacy and cyber security very seriously and works constantly to ensure your medical information is safe and secure.
If you suspect you have been called by a spammer you can call Southcoast Health’s patient experience line at 877-264-7244, and you can report the call to the following agencies:
The Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant online or at 1-888-382-1222.
Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation online or at 1-888-283-3757.