COLORADO SPRINGS — If a call comes in and the Caller ID tells you it's from a local hospital, research shows most people say they're going to answer the call. It's what the fraudsters behind recently reported imposter calls are banking on. News 5 explains what's happening and how to protect yourself.
Thanks to advances in technology most of us get "scam likely" warnings on our cell phones if a questionable call comes in, but technology is also helping fraudsters to spoof phone numbers on Caller ID. In this case fraudsters want you to think they are calling from the hospital asking for payment and sensitive information.
Here's a tip that came into our News 5 Investigates tip line:
"It was likely spoofed to say "Centura Health" and it had a 776 phone number. The female caller said she was medicare and asked if I got my new card in the mail. I said, "no." She verified information about me that anybody could find out. Then, they asked for my social security number and I ended the call. I wanted to alert you folks so you could broadcast the scam."
News 5 spoke with Centura Health officials who want you to take these steps if you're ever unsure about a call.
"The first thing to do I would say is to hang up and call back either the number that's on your statement or the number you've been given to schedule an appointment for," said Centura Health Patient Account Lead Colleen Murphy. "Calling the main number they say they're calling you from and just asking some questions. Hey, I'm getting a call what is this regarding? Anyone who answers those calls should be able to get you to the appropriate party that's trying to contact you if it's legitimate."
This isn't the first time News 5 has heard about fraudsters utilizing local hospital phone numbers to get people to pick up. About a year ago, we spoke with a viewer named Susan who experienced something similar.
"It came in as UCHealth and I was expecting a call for the COVID vaccine because I'm signed up as a registered patient there," said Susan. "I just hang up on them and tell them they are breaking the law by spoofing these numbers and they laugh at you."
If you still aren't convinced spoof calls are a problem, look at some of these numbers. Fraud experts say 58 to 60 million of these calls go out to people in the United States every year. That breaks down to roughly 113 calls per person.
Investigators say the scam callers are going off of marketing research that says if you see a number on Caller ID that you recognize, or identify it as a local number you're 60 percent more likely to answer that call.
Thanks to the information provided through our News 5 Investigates tip line we were able to follow up and put out this important warning about hospital spoof calls.
If you've been targeted by a scam you think people should know about you can always reach out to us by calling (719) 228 6275 or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.