Fairbanks residents receive scam calls pretending to be Tanana Valley Clinic
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Residents in the Fairbanks area have received phone calls from individuals claiming to be with Medicare and Tanana Valley Clinic (TVC).
According to Joseph O’Connor, Senior Director of Finance and Revenue Cycle for Foundation Health Partners (FHP), the scammers went so far as to disguise their caller ID.
“In the first case, somebody was posing as Medicare and they were soliciting information,” O’Connor explained. “It didn’t quite feel right, and so the patient at the time hung up and let it go at that. Another patient had been contacted, and there’s a particular term that somebody had ‘spoofed’ us. So, same type of scam in the sense that they said ‘Hey we’re Medicare,’ but they had used the TVC number to do that. So from a caller ID standpoint, it looked like we were contacting them for information.”
Upon confirming these attempts, Foundation Health Partners released a statement (linked here) confirming the wrongdoing as well as some advice on how best to avoid potential scammers.
“We take this stuff really seriously,” O’Connor elaborated. “I know fraud is more commonplace these days across a lot of industries. Healthcare is no exception, and so we contacted some of our IT team and security, and within a pretty short amount of time got the word out on our webpage or otherwise. I think that we can’t rely that somebody being kind of found out, or us broadcasting this on our website, is going to stop somebody. So what we’re trying to do is to advise our patients to simply reach out to us. If you don’t feel comfortable, just pick up the phone and call us. That way you’ll be assured that you’re actually reaching the right place.”
And according to FHP, their medical facilities will usually not contact an individual without that person reaching out first.
“We work in an industry where the information we deal with is pretty sensitive‚” O’Connor remarked. “Typically, most of our outbound calls to patients are in response to their inbound calls to us. So let’s say ‘Mr. Smith’ calls to get some lab results or get an appointment. This is a little bit of a blurred line.
O’Connor continued, “I think from an advice perspective, if it’s not in reference to something that you’ve requested or are expecting, it may be a good time at this time to say, ‘Hey, I’d like to call you back,’ and then just call our direct line - because at that point you would definitely not be dealing with anybody with these practices.”
FHP also advises reporting potential scam calls to law enforcement agencies such as the Alaska State Troopers and the Fairbanks Police Department.
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