Several dentists have notified the California Dental Association (CDA) and their local dental societies of two scams targeting their dental practices. In the first, dentists in the San Francisco Bay Area, South Lake Tahoe area, and Central Valley of California have reported receiving calls from individuals who claim to be Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents. These callers provide badge numbers and then proceed to make financial and other demands.
The callers tell the dentists they could be arrested if these demands are not met. One dentist reported that the caller told him his DEA license was being used to help transport "hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of drugs across the Mexico border."
The CDA has confirmed with the DEA that the calls are scams and that the scammers are using falsified phone numbers that mimic legitimate DEA numbers.
Similar to previous scams
Similar scams have previously made the rounds in California. In July 2018, criminals posed as DEA employees and targeted small businesses, including dental practices, as part of an extortion scam. In March 2019, the DEA warned of an "alarming increase of scam calls" that threaten legal action or demand immediate payment of fines.
Administration personnel do not contact practitioners or members of the public by telephone to demand money or request any personal or sensitive information. Notification of a legitimate investigation or legal action is made via official letter or in person, according to the DEA.
If your practice has received a call such as this from someone claiming to be a DEA agent, the administration asks you to report the call using the DEA's online extortion scam report form. The one-page report gives registrants the option of receiving a callback from DEA personnel about the incident. Or you can contact the DEA Registration Helpline at 800-882-9539.
In a second scam reported by at least three dentists to the San Gabriel Valley Dental Society, callers posing as employees of Southern California Edison, the electrical supply company, are contacting dental offices in an attempt to collect money and personal information.
To help dentists avoid falling for this scam, CDA Regulatory Compliance Analyst Teresa Pichay advises a practice's team should verify a caller's credentials and information, such as contacting the company using the information on the company website, before providing practice information to the individual.
Another good practice is to limit the number of people who are authorized to place orders and pay invoices. Additionally, the validity of the number on the phone's caller ID should not be assumed.
"Scammers want an immediate response. Don't give it to them," Pichay stated. "Take a deep breath, research it, then act accordingly."
DrBicuspid.com wishes to thank the California Dental Association (CDA) for allowing us to reprint this article, which originally appeared on the CDA website.