The Texas Medical Board (TMB) once again reminds health professionals to be vigilant and on alert for scammers impersonating the board.
In a July alert issued on their website, the TMB is warning health professionals to be aware of scammers who claim to be employees with the TMB, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) or other law enforcement agencies, spoofing phone numbers or sending “official-looking” fraudulent documents demanding money or other actions.
Health professionals who work at MD Anderson and UTHealth are not immune to such scams. The University of Police at Houston (UT Police) routinely receives reports from health professionals warning of potential fraud.
If this happens to you, Dr. Andrew Dasher, UT Police threat and risk analyst, encourages individuals to contact independent authorities to verify information.
“If someone stated my medical license was suspended, I should call the licensing agency and/or do an online search, if someone states your relative is in jail and to wire bond money, you should call the jail and check,” said Dasher.
Dasher says there is no one agency to call in order to check credentials, but individuals can verify on their own depending on the story given by the perpetrators.
Scammers use variations of the same scam. For example, you owe the Internal Revenue Service money, your driver’s license has been suspended, your mortgage was not received. There is a “wow” statement that grabs your attention and makes you think something must be done immediately.
“Wiring money to unknown parties is never advised until you do some homework on your own to verify,” said Dasher.
UT Police Sr. Inspector Covell Johnson offers additional tips to avoid becoming a victim of a scammer.
“If you are contacted at work, do not respond or call the number back. Contact IT and request they have the number blocked from calling your work phone extension,” said Johnson.
Johnson says scammers “cold call” professionals all the time. He says law enforcement agencies will never make a threat of punishment over the phone or call victims, witnesses or suspects through a pre-recorded number.
In TMB’s alert, they advise that the TMB will never call to discourage individuals from contacting lawyers, make requests for sensitive information over the phone nor will they mail demand letters for compensation to reinstate licenses, or threaten the arrest of licensees.
The DEA issued a similar statement advising that DEA employees would not contact a registrant to demand money or threaten to suspend a registrant’s DEA registration.
You can report scams to your local law enforcement agency and to UT Police at (713) 792-2890.
UT Police also encourages victims to report fraudulent or suspicious activities to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. The website identitytheft.gov is also a great resource for assistance with reporting and recovering from identity theft.
Don’t Fall For It: Scam and How to Spot Them is one of several class offerings that UT Police provides. The next classes are on Aug. 12 and 19. You can find a class calendar and a full list of safety classes under the Safety Classes card on the UT Police website on the Campus Safety section of utph.org.
Departments and work groups within MD Anderson and UTHealth can also request classes for their team by contacting the UT Police Community Outreach Team at 713-563-7794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following websites will help you to learn, avoid and report common scams: