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Guest Post by Pamela Rowe, MA, CCC-SLP Originally Published on January 20, 2013
We, as Therapists, are ideal targets. We have big hearts, want to see people improve, and we can be …well, there is no easy way to put this, a little on the verbose side. We do fit the perfect profile for a viral scamming nightmare.
Typically these scams tug on our emotional heartstrings and appeal to our sense of altruism.
Shirley Kunkel, M.A., CCC-SLP, a Private Practice Owner in Escondido, CA and Speech Pathologist for 33 years, recalls a recent encounter with a scam artist.
"I became mildly suspicious when they asked if I worked on receptive and expressive language, reading disorders and fluency disorders. I felt like their request was not specific enough. So I tried to ferret out what specifically they were trying remediate. Sounded like all the disorders I work on in listed in an Ad. Also, the person signed off as Mitchell one time and Michelle the next. I couldn't understand why the mother who had used Dr. in her title would be coming to my town for 4 months. It is not a scientific research community at the local hospital where I live. They said they presently lived in London and sometimes visited Egypt. I did not lose any money, but I regret that I invested my time and energies into responding to this thief."
Unfortunately, many Therapists are being targeted and are unknowingly engaging in these traps. As a result, some Therapists are losing their hard-earned money by the thousands.
Tom Jelen, Director of Online Communication with American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), has also noticed this growing problem within the Private Practice Community.
"ASHA has received several reports from our members about a scam that is being attempted on members in private practice. The scammer is requesting to have his or her child visit a private practitioner while visiting the United States. The scammer requests to pre-pay for an evaluation and then sends a cashier's check that is in an amount well above the evaluation charge. At this point, the scammer requests that the practitioner deposit the money in his or her bank and send back the overage (minus some money for the inconvenience). This scam has been reported to the Federal Trade Commission."
The Federal Trade Commission outlines normal banking activity facts in the article, "Giving the Bounce to Counterfeit Check Scams."
"Under federal law, banks generally must make funds available to you from U.S. Treasury checks, most other governmental checks, and official bank checks (cashier’s checks, certified checks, and teller’s checks), a business day after you deposit the check. For other checks, banks must make the first $200 available the day after you deposit the check, and the remaining funds must be made available on the second business day after the deposit."
"However, just because funds are available on a check you’ve deposited doesn’t mean the check is good. It’s best not to rely on money from any type of check (cashier, business or personal check, or money order) unless you know and trust the person you’re dealing with or, better yet — until the bank confirms that the check has cleared. Forgeries can take weeks to be discovered and untangled. The bottom line is that until the bank confirms that the funds from the check have been deposited into your account, you are responsible for any funds you withdraw against that check."
I got this e-mail just DAYS after this article was originally posted!
You Can Protect Yourself from Therapist Targeted Scams
Remember, if you think you’ve been targeted by a counterfeit check scam there is something you can do. Simply report it to the following agencies:
1. The Nigerian Email Scam, http://www.onguardonline.gov/articles/0002l-nigerian-email-scam
2. Giving the Bounce to Counterfeit Check Scams, http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/articles/naps29.pdf
Pamela Rowe, MA, CCC-SLP, is the Clinical Director of Pamela Rowe, MA, CCC-SLP, LLC in Longwood, FL. As a Speech Pathologist, Community Partner, Wife, and Mother of 3, Pamela enjoys mentoring the next generation of Speech Pathologists and hosting various community health events within Central Florida.
Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/speechorlando
Jena H. Casbon, MS CCC-SLP is a private practice consultant who helps SLPs, OTs and PTs start their own private practices. She is the author of two books: The Guide to Private Patients and The Guide to Creating a Web Presence For Your Private Practice.