Seasonal Scams in Healthcare

We’re entering the time of year that gives a lot of us to be thankful for, especially as more of us can gather in person.  But this doesn’t necessarily mean a break for those who work in healthcare as we all know.  Your jobs don’t stop when the holidays start. In fact, we’ve heard about the increase in emergency room visits that are a result of turkey fryer burns, haven’t we?

With that in mind, our gatherings are up, our guards are down, and the likelihood of an emergency can leave many people reacting without thinking.  And cybercriminals know this.  They will impersonate you, a healthcare employee, when calling patients to obtain private health information (PHI), going so far as to make the caller id appear as if it is legitimate.

Remind your patients that you will NOT ask for this type of information over the phone.  Second, if they are not expecting a call from you, it may be a scammer and they should hang up and call the office back directly.

The same can happen when it comes to phishing emails which will appear to be from legitimate email addresses redirecting them to fraudulent sites.  The user will be directed to input billing or personal information that is collected by the hacker to store for use now – or later when they are going for a bigger hit.

Why It Matters

The obvious reason is that you don’t want your patients to be taken advantage of by anyone.  But if a hacker can gain access to their PHI in any way, this gives them an advantage when it comes to the bigger picture – and that means accessing your network.  A data breach in any business is detrimental, but for those in healthcare, the HIPAA rules and regulations make it even more impactful.

Consumers are especially busy at this time of year and often in the rush of getting holiday-ready, they respond without pausing to think clearly.  The additional layer of trust that they have with their medical providers can give way to easy access to information. Cybercrime is sleek and it can fool even the most aware users, so providing gentle reminders to your patients to take heed before they proceed would be healthy for everyone.


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