Consumer protection bureau issues warning after hospital texting scam

DODGEVILLE (WKOW) — The Wisconsin Bureau of Consumer Protection is warning people in southern Wisconsin after three medical centers reported a scam involving suspicious texts from someone claiming to be from the hospital.

27 Newsfirst reportedabout the scam Monday after Platteville’s Southwest hospital sent out a warning. By Tuesday, Upland Hills Medical Center in Dodgeville and SSM Health’s Monroe Clinic reported similar messages.

Tina White, Upland Hills’ marketing director, said she found out about the scam impacting her hospital after the Iowa County sheriff’s office posted the warning on their Facebook.

“It is unfortunate that people prey on other people but it’s important that we are very guarded with any kind of communication,” she said.

White said it’s important to notice a few red flags in these messages. First of all, she said a hospital would never send a text message about someone’s condition.

“Texting that kind of information would be a HIPPA violation,” White said. “About the only texting we might do would be for an appointment reminder.”‘

She also points out the grammar in the message as well as the link itself, should be a giveaway.

The Michelle Reinen, a director for the Bureau of Consumer Protection, said these types of scams are constantly evolving. She said this latest scam is a reiteration of the grandparent’s scam or the friends and family scam.

“It has this urgency or threat, fear piece to it an emotional ploy is in some kind of harms way associated with the hospital and maybe needing some treatment but there needs to be this more immediate contact,” she said.

Reinen’s asking anyone who receives this message not to click the link but instead to take a screenshot, report it to authorities and delete the message.

“You don’t want to want to risk engaging in anyway by responding with any information,” she said.

Reinen said the message is likely trying to steal some of your personal information. If you respond or click the link, it may trigger malware on your device or alert the sender that yours is an active number.

If you do click the link, Reinen recommends you change your passwords as soon as possible and report the scam.

While the bureau is investigating, she said in these cases it’s almost impossible to find the source or prevent these messages from going out. That’s why its important to avoid falling victim by knowing what’s out there.

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