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Phone scammers at it again

Phone scammers at it again

Unwanted phone calls from telemarketers and scammers are unfortunate and common annoyances most of us encounter almost every day. If you have a telephone with Caller ID, you have likely received calls from numbers appearing to belong to someone in your area. While some of these calls are an attempt to sell you a legitimate service, many are veiled attempts to steal your identity and/or money.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, scam artists are now also targeting victims’ cell phones with text messages claiming to represent legitimate businesses, including WVU Medicine. People have recently reported receiving billing messages via text sent from MyWVUChart, our online patient portal, telling them they need to pay their WVU Medicine account.

MyWVUChart does not send text messages regarding your account, and any request for payment received in a text message should be ignored.

There have also been reports of scammers calling, claiming to be WVU Medicine with “an important message for the patient with diabetes.” Since type 2 diabetes is such a common condition in our region, the criminal figures that using this specific information will fool an unsuspecting person.

“Spoofing” is a practice used by scam artists to fool victims into volunteering personal and financial information, and it’s a huge problem in this country.

Here’s how it works: a familiar or local number appears on your caller ID display, seemingly belonging to a nearby business or entity. The scam artist then pretends to be a representative of that real business, bank, or government agency, all in hopes of misleading someone into giving them the information he or she wants.

It has been estimated that as many as 95 percent of Americans have been targeted by telephone scams. While it’s not against the law for businesses to alter the appearance of their phone numbers for privacy reasons, it is illegal for spoofing to be used for fraudulent purposes.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Take it online. If you haven’t signed up to use, do it today. This easy to use, secure site allows you to look at your account and pay your bills online, as well as see your test results, schedule and keep track of upcoming appointments, and much more. Remember, MyWVUChart does not send you text messages about your account.
  • Resist the pressure. Scammers will attempt to push you into acting quickly, and often create a sense of urgency. They don’t give up easily. Don’t fall for it.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. Legitimate businesses do not use scare tactics or threats.
  • Hang up. If you do answer the call, and suspect it’s fraudulent, hang up the phone and call the number on your bill.

Remember: Any actual WVU Medicine representative calling should speak in a professional and pleasant manner. If you sense you are being pressured, rushed, bullied, or threatened, hang up immediately and call the phone number on your bill.

If you suspect you have been the target of a scam artist posing as a WVU Medicine representative, make a note of the number and the details and call WVU Medicine - WVU Hospitals Patient Financial Services at (855) 778-2922.