Dental clinicians and practitioners face a unique set of challenges day in and day out, from ensuring patient satisfaction to staying on top of technological advancements in the field to maintaining a steady income stream in a increasingly competitive environment.
But a dental practice also faces the hurdle of keeping its staff and patients connected, which exposes them to an altogether different struggle – that of keeping data secure in an age when scammers are working harder than ever to compromise patient information.
The protection and organization of data is a serious matter, and so I’m starting the new year by bringing you up to speed on the rise of phishing and other cyberscamming attempts.
Below, I discuss recent scams both in and out of the field of dentistry, and provide some tactics to help you defend yourself.
Phishing is the act of impersonating legitimate companies through email or phone contact in an attempt to lure staff or consumers themselves into divulging private, personal information.
Emails will often ask for login credentials and other personal info to solve a vague but urgent problem. Scammers go to great lengths to make the request seem legitimate, which works to build a false sense of security in victims.
The CRA Scam
Consider the recent CRA scam that has already affected 4,000 victims who have lost more than $15 million. This scam takes the form of a call from someone claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency, who then threatens victims with arrest for owing back taxes. The scammers will often demand payment in the form of gift cards, cybercurrency, wire transfers or other unorthodox methods of payment.
Up the Amazon Without a Paddle
Meanwhile, the RCMP are issuing warnings about a phishing scam targeting Amazon customers. The police warn about emails sent to customers regarding purchases they never made, complete with receipts of purchase and shipping addresses. By clicking on the ‘details’ button, emails direct victims to a fake Amazon login page that then attempts to steal credit card information.
Cyberscams with Teeth
The dental industry is not impervious to these threats, either. In 2015, an Oregon dental services company reported that a hacker had breached their system, accessing the information of more than 151,000 patients. The pinched data included patient names, social security numbers, phone numbers and addresses, as well as birth dates.
The hackers leveraged malware in order to obtain an employee’s username and password which gave them access to the company’s membership database.
I can hear you asking, how do I protect myself against these threats? If you want to keep your personal or financial records safe from scammers, this simple but effective list of considerations will really help keep your info safe from compromise.
- Don’t reply to any email that requests you to enter your personal or financial information
- Check the hyperlink by hovering your mouse over the link to verify the address. If the email claims to be coming from Aeroplan, verify that the site is indeed Aeroplan.com or .ca
- Contact your bank or financial institution immediately if the email or phone call claims that you owe money. Banks compile info on these scams and reporting the incident can help bring down the predators
- Get in touch with Equifax or TransUnion to place a fraud alert on your name if you suspect you might be the victim of attempted identity theft
If you run a dental practice, and you’re worried about keeping your financial records, patient files, schedules, and other documents secure, it pays to partner with a company that understands the nuances of cybercrime.
Servers aren’t always secure, and your digital dental office staff are only human and are not invulnerable to sophisticated phishing scams, so it pays to add another layer of defence. Services are available that offer safe encryption of your data and advanced cloud storage. Data is protected from attacks but can quickly be restored with up to date backups if necessary.
If you feel that you are the target of a cyberscam, take your time and remember to be cautious. When dealing with any company, including a government agency like the CRA, you have the right to request written information, ask for a call back number, and demand time to think over the situation. A real company will be trying to solve a problem, and will show patience. Scammers around the world are all the same – they will want to part you from your money as soon as possible.
And if you run a dental practice, remember that safe, reliable web based dental solutions are available and becoming increasingly the platform of choice.