SKOWHEGAN — Patients who have received services at Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan have become the target of a phishing scam involving automated phone calls asking for personal financial information, officials said.
People are receiving calls offering to help the call recipients pay their hospital bills, hoping they will provide financial information, such as credit card numbers, over the phone.
Dan Connelly, Redington-Fairview’s systems manger, said the hospital switchboard alerted hospital administration after two patients reported the phishing expedition. No one actually fell for the scheme, he said.
The scam is complicated by the fact that the call comes from a local phone number — 207-858-2308 — which is owned by Redington-Fairview, but is not a configured extension in the hospital communications system, according to a news release from the hospital. The hospital does not use automated calling systems.
A call to that number Thursday morning was met with an automated answer asking what extension the caller wanted. An internet reverse phone search showed that the number is local to Skowhegan but did not provide a name or address.
“Our data systems remain secure and intact, there has been no security breach,” Connelly said in the release. “The scammers do not have any of your personal information. They are hoping their victims will provide financial information.”
Reached by phone Thursday, Connelly said he doesn’t think the scam is an “inside job” at the hospital. He said sophisticated hackers have ways of routing numbers to appear to have been made locally, as apparently happened in this scam.
He said Redington-Fairview has 500 to 600 telephone numbers in its system.
“We just want to update people that we wouldn’t use a robo-calling system or an automated calling system,” Connelly said. “It is concerning, but I am confident that the number was spoofed just like when people get a call saying your Bank of America password has expired; please log in.”
He said there is no office or hospital department that corresponds to the number the calls came from.
Hospital officials urged people to hang up immediately if they receive one of the calls, or block the number if it appears on caller ID, because it is a phishing scam, according to the news release. Hospital officials are telling intended victims not to provide any personal information to the callers.
Hospital administration and security personnel are working with the Skowhegan Police Department to investigate the matter further.
Jeff Austin, spokesman at the Maine Hospital Association, said that while hospitals and health care networks are frequently targets of hacking attempts, he has not heard of the one described by hospital officials in Skowhegan.
Connelly said Skowhegan police have been notified of the situation. Skowhegan police Detective Katelyn Nichols said in an email to the Morning Sentinel that there is no update on the case and that information will be released when it’s available.
Doug Harlow — 612-2367