Scammers targeting Nebraska hospital patients

Scammers are apparently targeting patients at Nebraska hospitals that have been hampered by a nationwide cyberattack.

The Nebraska Hospital Association and Bryan Health both said Monday that they are aware of reports of patients being targeted by scammers offering refunds if they provide credit card information.

They said the scam calls are apparently connected to the recent cyberattack on Change Healthcare, a UnitedHealth Group subsidiary that provides financial and clinical authorization services to hospitals and pharmacies across the country.

The Nebraska Hospital Association said last week that the cyberattack on Change Healthcare was affecting “a majority” of the state’s hospitals, which have been experiencing issues with prior authorizations for drugs, surgeries and other medical procedures; insurance verification for hospital stays; cost estimates; and patient billing.

It’s not clear exactly what refunds the scammers are offering, but Bryan said in a press release that it has received reports of scammers who are claiming to be representatives from Nebraska hospitals and reaching out to patients offering them refunds if they provide credit card information. It’s not clear what charges they are claiming to be refunding.

“The scammers have seen the headlines of the breach and are trying to take advantage by pretending to work at hospitals and collect credit card info, even ones that are not impacted by the cyberattack,” said Brad Colee, a spokesman for Bryan, which was not affected by the cyberattack. “We wanted to make patients in the community aware of this in case they receive any type of suspicious call.”

He reminded patients that Bryan will never ask for credit card information over the phone to initiate a refund.

Jeremy Nordquist, president of the Nebraska Hospital Association, said in a statement that people need to be vigilant when presented with these types of scams.

“If you are at all skeptical regarding the nature of a phone call, hang up and call your hospital directly,” he said.

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