Con artist uses St. Francis hospital phone system ID to try to scam patients

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (January 22, 2016) -- Indianapolis Metropolitan police are looking into a possible security breach at a local hospital.

This week a patient at St. Francis alerted the hospital after being contacted by a potential con artist. According to the police report, an unnamed suspect may have accessed patient information through the hospital phone system.

Franciscan St. Francis said they investigated the issue and they believe the call came from someone outside their facility and was made to look legitimate. The victim, a 78-year-old woman, was confronted by a caller who claimed she owed money for a pacemaker.

The scam takes an alarming twist because according to the police report, "the director of the heart physician’s office stated that an unknown individual(s) is utilizing their phone system and is attempting to retrieve money from patients."

“If it doesn’t sound right. If you don’t think you owe that debt, check it out,” said Tom Maniscalo with the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana.

Maniscalo says there is a fairly easy to way to prove if a debt collector is real or not.

“If you owe a debt and someone is calling you, you are entitled to a validation notice,” said Maniscalo.

He says if the caller isn’t able to send that notice in the mail, hang up, because it’s likely a scam.

“That’s a written notice that says how much the debt is and what the debt is for. You should ask for that, if you think it’s not legitimate. If they can’t come up with that, stop the process right there,” said Maniscalo.

In this case, the mysterious caller told the elderly victim if she hadn’t used her medical device yet she’d have to pay for it or return it to the hospital.

In a written statement, St. Francis says the scammer copied their caller ID and explained, “many hospitals, physician offices and other companies have become targets of a practice called 'spoofing,' which makes it appear that a call has been received from a legitimate institution, deceiving the victim into providing personal and financial information.”

St. Francis also says they take the security and confidentiality of all their patients extremely serious. That’s why they asked police to look into the issue.

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