8 ways Dental Professionals can protect themselves from Identity Theft and Scams
As working professionals with advanced degrees we may have a false sense of security when it comes to ID theft and scams. We show up day after day to the safety of our “little corner of the working world” whether it be an 1,800 sq. ft. dental practice or shared space within a dental practice. We talk to other dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, physicians, nurses and other dental personnel and from time to time regulatory agents such as law enforcement officers, DEA, ADA or Compliance staff from our Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners. Unfortunately, we are not immune to the criminal element that exists among us.
Recently there has been a rash of regulatory imposters. They may pose as DEA or Compliance staff. They may call or come to your practice/office. They may know your name and may even know the name of the regulatory person they are impersonating. These imposters may make threats and demands. They may tell you that your license has been suspended and you need to remedy the situation immediately and demand payment of some sort. They may ask you to step out of the practice/office and call back on your personal cell phone. So, how do you protect yourself?
There are a few simple things you can do:
- Listen to that little voice in the back of your head. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
- No regulatory agent, whether it be DEA/Board Compliance or other law enforcement personal would ever call and ask you for personal information.
- If there is a person in front of you claiming to be a Compliance Officer and you do not recognize them, ask for identification. If you are still not sure, look up their name on the Board’s website at https://dentalboard.az.gov/about/leadership. All staff members are listed on the Board’s website.
- If you receive a phone call and are unsure of the veracity of what the person is stating, then please call the Board’s office and ask to speak to that very person. They are very likely not employed at the Board’s office.
- Call the Board’s office and ask the staff person who answers the phone to speak to the person in front of you or to the person who called you on a three-way call.
- Report any suspected DEA scam activity to your local DEA field office. The DEA will never fax or call to demand payment of any kind from an individual.
- Never give your personal information (social security number, account numbers, DEA number, NPI number, etc) to someone you do not know, especially over the phone.
- If you still have doubts call your direct supervisor for further guidance.
Most importantly, never be afraid to explain that you wish to verify someone’s identity prior to letting them into your practice or place of business. A regulatory agent will ALWAYS show identification. Look at it. Does the picture match? Does it have the correct agency name on it? It only takes a few minutes to verify. Sadly, it can take years to correct ID theft. If you should become a victim of identity theft, report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission at consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft.
For more about what the imposters are willing to do, please see this fax that was delivered to a dentist on 12/7/2020. Besides being riddled with grammatical errors, it is without a doubt a false report and the Board Director's signature was even forged.
With added liberty and borrowed from Author, Karol L. Hess, Pharm D, RPh, Compliance Officer, ASBP