Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services

 

The Wisconsin Department of Justice recently alerted state law enforcement about a scam involving health care credential holders. We want to make you aware of the potential fraud scheme, to make sure you knew how to verify the status of your license, and to distinguish how this scam is different from what you should expect from the department during any legitimate disciplinary proceedings.

 

The Wisconsin Statewide Intelligence Center issued the notice, which is attached to this message, after learning that some Wisconsin health care license holders had experienced similar fraudulent contacts. All had received calls indicating that their licenses had been suspended due to criminal activity and that they were to leave work immediately or risk being arrested. Some were directed to nearby UPS stores to retrieve faxed documents that purportedly verified the investigations. None of the individuals who reported the scam had been asked to transfer money, although reports of similar fraud in other states involved requests for payment.

 

This pattern of activity is not standard process for DSPS. When there is an active complaint against an individual’s license, the department will make a good faith effort to first contact the license holder via email or mail and not by phone. Should the department not receive a response to our written requests, we may then reach out to you via the phone number on file with the department. However, the department will not notify you of a suspended license or notify you that a complaint has been filed over the phone. You will always be provided written notice well before any phone call is made, as outlined above. 

 

Those who receive any suspicious communication regarding their license should consider the following actions:

  • Anyone who fears for their immediate physical safety should hang up and call 911.
  • You can verify the status of your license at the DSPS online license look-up. The search results will include accurate current license status. In other words, if the search indicates a license is active, it is active.
  • You can report scams and fraud attempts through the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaints Center at https://ic3.gov.

I understand that these scams can cause worry and, in some cases, alarm. However, there are processes in place that afford license holders due process in any disciplinary action. Any wholly unexpected news of license suspension or revocation should be questioned, and any irregular communication should be reported.

 

Current technology can make scams trickier to identify, but there are often warning signs:

  • While scammers can spoof caller ID displays so that a legitimate number appears, they still discourage potential victims from hanging up and calling back later.
  • Scammers will often try to transfer a potential victim to another person, often someone called an “investigator.”
  • Scammers often mention criminal investigations involving identity theft, say co-workers are suspects, or insist would-be victims that they cannot speak to anyone else about the call. Sometimes they invoke the Privacy Act of 1974 as a scare tactic.
  • Scammers try to keep intended victims on the phone and do not ask for funds right away in an attempt to appear legitimate.
  • Some scammers might blame COVID-19 for the change in procedures.
  • Legitimate law enforcement can arrange to safely interview a victim or witness in person at a local law enforcement agency or in person.
  • Legitimate government agencies will never call licensees to solicit money to resolve criminal allegations.
  • Written correspondence may contain actual DSPS employee names or numbers, as much of that information is publicly available, but faxes will often also contain spelling or factual errors. 
  • Callers or correspondence may reference different agencies, professional associations, or federal government bodies and use the terms interchangeably. The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services derives its authority from state, not federal, law. It is not directly affiliated with professional associations and does not act on their behalf.

This message is not a reason to panic, but please do check the status of your license online if you have any concerns.

Click here to read the DOJ alert:

 

Sincerely,

DawnCrim

 

 

Dawn B. Crim

Secretary-designee