Hospital warns community of phone scam to get PHI

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Beaufort Memorial Hospital in South Carolina is warning the community of a telephone scam called “spoofing” in which scammers falsify information on recipients’ caller ID screens to make a phone call appear to be coming from the hospital.

The scammers then seek to get protected health information over the phone, including Social Security and credit card numbers, while attempting to sell a service.

“Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone representing themselves as a BMH employee without screening the caller, then verifying the information by calling the extension yourself,” Willard Fosberry, director of information systems, says in a hospital statement released to the community.

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Persons getting a call that appears to be from the hospital are advised to ask the caller to give identifying information such as name, position, department and a call-back number, then call the hospital and ask to be transferred directly to the appropriate person or department to verify if a legitimate hospital representative called.

“If a caller is asking for bill payment or personal identifying information, hang up and call the phone number on your billing statement,” Fosberry advises. He adds that there is no evidence of a breach of the hospital’s medical records.

The Beaumont incident is similar to a scam that affected the federal Department of Health and Human Services in March.

The phone number of a hotline at the Office of the Inspector General, which investigates complaints of fraud and mismanagement at HHS, was used by scammers to get personal data from persons who believed they were talking to OIG staff, as the HHS tips hotline phone number appeared on their screen.

The hospital declined to provide further information about the incidents but has notified its local phone carrier and law enforcement agencies.

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