Fraudulent phone calls reported in Palouse area

Scammers claim to be employees of hospital, ask for credit cards



Peter Mundt, director of community relations and marketing at Gritman Medical Center, says they have received reports of scammers falsely claiming to be employees at the non-profit.

LOREN NEGRON, Evergreen reporter

Gritman Medical Center has received about five reports of fraudulent phone calls from scammers pretending to be hospital employees within its service region since Aug. 22.

Peter Mundt, director of community relations and marketing at Gritman, said the scammers use a technique called spoofing to mask their caller ID, making it seem that the calls are coming from Gritman.

Mundt said call receivers were asked about their health or physical conditions and if they wanted to buy a product, such as pain relievers. They were also asked to provide their credit card numbers.

“We’re never going to call people and solicit business in that way,” Mundt said. “Unfortunately for us, there have been a few people who have received these calls, and they think they’re real. And they are upset at Gritman.”

Mundt said the hospital experienced this same problem with fraudulent phone calls late last year. The issue reemerged about two weeks ago. Mundt said a community member left an angry voicemail for him after receiving a “sales call” that came from his extension.

“We’re [a] nonprofit business in town, and we feel bad that people on the phones are thinking this is us … That’s not how we practice our business,” Mundt said.

Early last week, Gritman received a few more reports. A media release was sent out concerning this issue on Aug. 29.

Tyler Russell, marketplace manager for the Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific, said individuals can register their numbers to the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry. Fraudulent phone calls can also be reported on the Bureau’s Scam Tracker, which can be accessed on its website.

“We always recommend people to let it go to voicemail, and then make your decision at that point,” Russell said.

If individuals receive a suspicious call, Russell said it is best to hang up and not press any numbers on the keypad.

Individuals who receive calls from Gritman can call its mainline (208-882-4511) to verify the call’s authenticity or present any concerns.

“Gritman has a very long history of being very transparent with the public, and we want to help in any way we can,” Mundt said.