Fort HealthCare advises the community to be aware of a phone scam currently taking place in the area where spoof calls are being made to residents showing Fort HealthCare or “Fort Health” on their caller ID, and using that as a cover to sell emergency medical alert devices or similar products to them. The call back number on residents’ caller ID is not a valid Fort HealthCare phone number, but does get routed to different departments within the hospital when called.

CareLine is the name of a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) service that Fort HealthCare provides. The phony calls do not reference CareLine or appear to be directed at any specific population. They resemble automated telemarketing calls and are in no way affiliated with Fort HealthCare or the CareLine service.

Jolene Preston, CareLine coordinator with the Fort HealthCare Volunteer Services department, urges, “It’s important for members of our community to trust that we would NEVER cold call anyone to sell them the CareLine service. And we would certainly never call without identifying ourselves, leaving a message with a valid call back number, or ask for any information that isn’t necessary related to providing our service. We’re here to make sure people feel comfortable and are safe, not to make ourselves seem like we’re providing anything contrary to that.”

Preston adds, “It is also very important for residents to know that the phone numbers that are being called are NOT from a list of Fort HealthCare patients or CareLine subscribers; they are derived from lists of available numbers in telemarketing databases and phone books. Our customer data is very secure, and the only thing connecting these calls to us is the scammer chose to use our company name as a healthcare provider as the caller ID to make their activity seem more legitimate.”

What is spoofing and how does it work?

Spoofing occurs when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Spoofing is often used as part of an attempt to trick someone into giving away valuable personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally. United States law and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules prohibit most types of spoofing.

Caller ID lets consumers avoid unwanted phone calls by displaying caller names and phone numbers, but the caller ID feature is sometimes manipulated by spoofers who make themselves appear to be representatives of banks, creditors, insurance companies, hospitals, or even the government. You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be careful about responding to any request for personal identifying information, or offering payment over the phone.

What you can do if you think you are being spoofed

Both the FCC (www.fcc.gov) and the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov) are entities designed to protect consumers against deceptive and unfair information sharing and business practices. The organizations’ websites offer some guidelines for what to do if you feel you have been an unwilling participant in a phone scam or spoof.

  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request.
  • Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.

If you receive a call and you suspect caller ID information has been falsified, or if you think the rules for protecting the privacy of your telephone number have been violated, you can file a complaint with the FCC or the FTC online.

Preston adds, “If you receive a call like this, and the caller ID indicates it’s coming from Fort HealthCare or ‘Fort Health,’ we’re advising people to ask the caller to verify their identify, what department they are calling from at Fort HealthCare, and to provide a return call number. Then contact us with that information to help verify. And certainly if the caller hangs up, or it is clearly a ‘robocall,’ please be assured that the call is NOT truly coming from Fort HealthCare or any of our affiliated services.”

If you have been a recipient of a false call, or have any concerns about your CareLine subscription, Fort HealthCare encourages you to contact Preston and share what happened. Her direct line during normal office hours Monday through Friday is (920) 568-5275.

CareLine is the name of a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) service that Fort HealthCare provides. Subscribers have a communicator unit and a portable waterproof button with a fall detector that is worn on a cord around the neck or a strap around the wrist. The Mobile Care unit includes a built in fall detector and GPS location service. And in most cases, subscribers do not need a phone for CareLine service. The system allows users to maintain their independence by living in their own home, gives peace of mind to both the subscriber and their family, and if something does happen, the quick response time minimizes the risk of further injuries that can occur when people do not receive immediate assistance after a fall or major accident. For more information, visit FortHealthCare.com/CareLine.

Fort HealthCare is committed to improving the health and well-being of our communities, with a vision to be the healthiest community in Wisconsin. As the leading healthcare provider in the region, it is our goal to reach as many members of the community as possible with health and wellness messages, providing tools and resources to help individuals improve their health and quality of life, while collaborating with several partners to positively improve the population’s health overall on a long term basis. For more information, visit FortHealthCare.com.