Business Fraud Alert
As physicians and practices across the state and country are keeping up with changes to the healthcare industry as a result of COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued a fraud notice.
Sadly, there is an increasing amount of fraudulent or criminal activity being unleashed on unsuspecting or hard-pressed individuals and businesses during this COVID-19 crisis. The alert reminds us that we all need to be on guard. Watch out for all types of suspicious activity whether it deals with business or personal activities, cybercrime, billing fraud, HIPAA and anything else.
Remember that while government officials have relaxed, suspended or announced they will not enforce many health care regulations, these announcements and orders are intended to help physicians and others care for patients during the COVID-19 crisis and are limited in scope to assist with protection, care and treatment delivered during the pandemic emergency. This means that normal business procedures are still in place for most routine operations.
Follow your compliance plans and policies and procedures to the extent possible during this emergency. Doing so should help you protect yourself and your practice from fraud, scams and criminals preying on vulnerabilities at this time. If you have any concerns or questions, ask your business and legal advisors, and pay attention to fraud alerts from reputable sources.
Alert: Individual Posing as OCR Investigator
It has come to OCR’s attention that an individual posing as an OCR Investigator has contacted HIPAA covered entities in an attempt to obtain protected health information (PHI). The individual identifies themselves on the telephone as an OCR investigator, but does not provide an OCR complaint transaction number or any other verifiable information relating to an OCR investigation.
HIPAA covered entities and business associates should alert their workforce members, and can take action to verify that someone is an OCR investigator by asking for the investigator’s email address, which will end in @hhs.gov, and asking for a confirming email from the OCR investigator’s hhs.gov email address.
If organizations have additional questions or concerns, send an email to: OCRMail@hhs.gov.
Suspected incidents of individuals posing as federal law enforcement should be reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI issued a public service announcement about COVID-19 fraud schemes - view FBI announcement about COVID-19 fraud schemes.
If you have questions about this information
or OSMA’s services to physicians:
Call 800-766-6762 or email OSMA.