Drew County residents are reporting an ongoing telephone scam that involves Caller ID “spoofing.”

This practice is a form of telemarketing that impersonates a local phone number that does not reflect the original caller location. In this instance, Drew Memorial Health System administration has been made aware of calls to local numbers which show up on Caller ID as being from “Drew Memorial Hospital,” despite the fact that the hospital has no affiliation with the actual entity placing the call.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prohibits the practice of disguising an actual telephone number to mislead consumers as to the true caller’s identity and the service or product being sold.

The calls disguised as being from the hospital have been reported to include a conversation with a person identifying herself as staff member “Christy” who encourages the individual who answers to consolidate their credit cards. Other scams imitating the hospital’s phone number may also be in practice.

“The hospital would never call patients or other community members with the intent to sell any product or service, and any similar calls should be reported as spoofing immediately,” said Drew Memorial Hospital Chief Quality Officer Jodie Efrid.

The danger in spoofing scams is not just that the caller may impersonate a business in order to sell to a consumer, but also that their product or service being sold is questionable or does not exist. Further, Caller ID Spoofing can be used to perpetrate identity theft by convincing a consumer that he is dealing with a trusted source over the phone. In many cases, Drew Memorial staff do require personal information when speaking with patients about their accounts. However, “if you have any concerns about a call you have received and are not sure whether it is legitimately from Drew Memorial, you can always hang up and call our main number and ask to speak to a financial counselor,” Efird said.

The hospital’s main phone number (870) 367-2411 is staffed by an operator 24/7. Any suspicious calls should be reported to Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office or directly to the FCC at (888) CALL-FCC or at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov. Noting the actual phone number on your Caller ID by writing it down or taking a screen shot, if using a mobile phone, may be helpful in filing your complaint. For more information about spoofing scams and other consumer alerts, contact the Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or view their resources and online complaint forms at arkansasag.gov.