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Beware of Scams Targeting Therapists

Curt and Katie discuss common scams that specifically target therapists. We look at how to identify scams or sketchy business practices that can be very confusing as well as dangerous to clinicians. We also talk about how to protect yourself as well as solid business practices that you can implement to stave off some of these scammers.

Transcript

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In this podcast episode we talk about scams that target therapists

We have heard about a lot of scams in our careers. We figured it was time to do another “survival guide” episode on how to protect ourselves as therapists.

What are the most common scams targeting therapists?

“And most of the scams seem to be trying to tell someone that they are in trouble –  And if you just pay me this trouble will go away.” – Katie Vernoy

  • Information used from popular therapist directories
  • Claiming to be a law enforcement professional, missed court date, or the IRS
  • Image copyright infringement
  • Businesses that target you to charge them for things that are free or with another company
  • Clients or people seeking therapy for family members and then overpay and ask for a refund
  • Text messages or emails with unsolicited links that can leave malware on your computer
  • Phishing schemes
  • Testing stolen credit cards or stolen identities

How can modern therapists protect ourselves from these scams?

“Be skeptical of these things, hang up, call legitimate numbers from the offices of these departments. And if nothing else, let those departments know, let your professional organizations know – these are the kinds of messages that I’m receiving. Those organizations will usually have some kind of response that they blast out to their members with their licensees, hey, there’s a scam going around, be aware of it.” – Curt Widhalm

  • Get into wise mind (avoid responding to false urgency)
  • Go through official channels (contact actual officials)
  • Contact an attorney if unsure
  • Understand how legal notices are properly delivered
  • Caution with financial systems and not allowing people to pay upfront
  • Requiring person seeking services to contact therapist
  • Cyber security trainings
  • Communicating appropriately and consistently
  • Holding to systems and boundaries
  • Make sure to share these scams with professional organizations, the official entity, or your licensing board

Our Generous Sponsors for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide:

GreenOak Accounting

At GreenOak Accounting, they believe that every private practice should be profitable. They’ve worked with hundreds of practice owners across the country to have the financial confidence and information to make data-driven decisions. We want our client’s businesses to be profitable so they can focus on fulfilling their mission.

GreenOak Accounting specializes in working with therapists in private practice, and they have helped hundreds of therapists across the country reach their financial goals. They offer a number of monthly packages to fit a growing practice’s needs – from bookkeeping to CFO services. Other specialized services include Profit First Support, compensation planning, and customized KPI Dashboards. They help therapists achieve their clinical goals by making sure they have a profitable practice, and offer unsurpassed support along the way.

If you’re interested in scheduling a complimentary consultation, please visit their website at http://www.GreenOakAccounting.com/consultation to learn more.

Thrizer

Thrizer is a new modern billing platform for therapists that was built on the belief that therapy should be accessible AND clinicians should earn what they are worth. Their platform automatically gets clients reimbursed by their insurance after every session. Just by billing your clients through Thrizer, you can potentially save them hundreds every month, with no extra work on your end. Every time you bill a client through Thrizer, an insurance claim is automatically generated and sent directly to the client’s insurance. From there, Thrizer provides concierge support to ensure clients get their reimbursement quickly, directly into their bank account. By eliminating reimbursement by check, confusion around benefits, and obscurity with reimbursement status, they allow your clients to focus on what actually matters rather than worrying about their money. It is very quick to get set up and it works great in completement with EHR systems. Their team is super helpful and responsive, and the founder is actually a long-time therapy client who grew frustrated with his reimbursement times The best part is you don’t need to give up your rate. They charge a standard 3% payment processing fee!

Thrizer lets you become more accessible while remaining in complete control of your practice. A better experience for your clients during therapy means higher retention. Money won’t be the reason they quit on therapy. Sign up using bit.ly/moderntherapists if you want to test Thrizer completely risk free! Sign up for Thrizer with code ‘moderntherapists’ for 1 month of no credit card fees or payment processing fees! That’s right – you will get one month of no payment processing fees, meaning you earn 100% of your cash rate during that time.

Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Abundance Practice Building Article on Copyright Infringement

From Joe Borders: Currently Active Scams Targeting Therapists

From APA: Protect your practice from scams targeting psychologists

From APA: More reports surface of telephone scammers targeting psychologists

From the SF Chronicle: ‘He held me hostage with no gun but with his words’: The phone scam gaslighting therapists

From Counseling Today: Technology Tutor: Scams aimed at counselors

From Psych Today: The Phone Scam That Targets Psychologists

From CPH & Associates: Scam Targeting Therapists: What You Need to Know

From 10News.Com: The jury duty scam you should know about

Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

Who’s in the Room? Siri, Alexa, and Confidentiality

Malpractice is No Joke

Gaslighting Therapists

Who we are:

Picture of Curt Widhalm, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcast; a nice young man with a glorious beard.Curt Widhalm, LMFT

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at: http://www.curtwidhalm.com

Picture of Katie Vernoy, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcastKatie Vernoy, LMFT

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at: http://www.katievernoy.com

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:

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Consultation services with Curt Widhalm or Katie Vernoy:

The Fifty-Minute Hour

Connect with the Modern Therapist Community:

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann https://www.facebook.com/McCannDW/

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano https://groomsymusic.com/

Transcript for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast (Autogenerated):

Curt Widhalm 0:00
This episode is brought to you by GreenOak Accounting.

Katie Vernoy 0:04
At GreenOak Accounting they believe that every practice should be profitable. They work with therapists all around the country and they give practice owners the financial confidence and information to make data driven decisions. They want their clients businesses to be profitable, so they can focus on fulfilling their mission.

Curt Widhalm 0:20
If you’re interested in speaking with a member of their team, visit their website at greenoakaccounting.com today, and listen at the end of the episode for more information.

Katie Vernoy 0:29
This episode is also brought to you by Thrizer.

Curt Widhalm 0:33
Thrizer is a modern billing platform for private pay therapists. Their platform automatically gets clients reimbursed by their insurance after every session. Just by billing your clients through Thrizer, you can potentially save them hundreds every month with no extra work on your end. The best part is you don’t have to give up your rates. They charge a standard 3% processing fee!

Katie Vernoy 0:55
Listen at the end of the episode for more information on a special offer from Thrizer.

Announcer 1:00
You’re listening to The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide where therapists live, breathe and practice as human beings. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy.

Curt Widhalm 1:15
Welcome back modern therapists This is The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy. And this is the podcast for therapists things that we should be aware about. And this week, we are bringing to light some things that have been around for a while. Talking about some scams that target therapists, ways that you can protect yourself and just things to be aware about. In first, we should probably address the biggest scam out there for therapists, which is grad schools convincing you that this is a lucrative profession.

Katie Vernoy 1:50
Not quite a scam. But certainly if you’re considering being a therapist, I think that there are a lot of different ways that you can make a decent living but saying that it’s a super lucrative career as is, it’s a that’s not exactly true.

Curt Widhalm 2:04
More seriously, though, there’s a number of scams that have been around for years that tend to start to target people, usually off some of those professional directory listings. They just kind of go down the list. And Katie and I have found a few of them. We’ve been attempted targets of a few of them. I guess we’ll just kind of go through this a little bit here. Katie, what’s the first one that you want to address?

Katie Vernoy 2:31
I think the one that is scariest to me, that has not happened to me, but I’ve heard a lot of folks who have been potentially taken in by it is the one where someone calls posing as law enforcement, whether it’s the sheriff’s deputy or other types of police officers, they have varying levels of skill in either identifying law enforcement professional or a similar phone number or something to a local police station or that kind of stuff where they then say that you have missed a federal court appearance or you failed to appear at a local court appearance or you’re in contempt of court, and that you have to pay all these fines or you have to come somewhere to pay some fines. I mean, there’s things that get pretty far along with a lot of different tactics inside it and I think it’s pretty scary. Because it’s something where we do as a profession oftentimes interact with law enforcement and the court system. And so it can be very easy to be like, Oh, my gosh, how did I miss this thing and want to resolve it. I think folks are more aware of it. There’s been some articles, and we’ll link to those in the show notes of around folks that have tried to put this out as publicly as possible. But even when you’re doing your due diligence, and they’ve used the name of someone who’s readily available on a website, and they’ve used a phone number that’s, you know, pretty similar. I think it can be hard to parse that out, especially with the intensity of what you’ve done wrong, you know.

Curt Widhalm 4:02
This one really relies on our inherent appeal to authority that relies on us having kind of a initial like being thrown off, being, you know, really not operating out of our wise mind. And then just following the orders of authority. Some of us, I’ve seen in these articles, and we can post some of the articles that we’re basing this episode on in our show notes, you can find those over at mtsgpodcast.com. But a lot of them describe people who have a fear of having officers show up to their office and arrest them in front of clients. And because there’s always an immediacy of these are things that need to happen right now. And so it is really that wanting to follow authority, wanting to take care of things. It’s balanced between kind of this good cop, bad cop sort of thing that a lot of these scammers end up doing, which is you need to take care of this right now. But if you take care of it, we’ll just make sure that you’re taken care of.

Katie Vernoy 5:08
Yeah.

Curt Widhalm 5:08
And it also usually seems to involve people needing to pay and things either like cash or gift cards, because their payment processor systems are down. These are things where in your response to them, you are better off just kind of calming down, they try to keep you on the phone, so that way they can keep you engaged in this, keep you on the line, keep you hooked into it. But these are things that to get to a place where you can make some common sense decisions about this is, if you’re in a smaller town, you might only have one Sheriff’s Office, you might actually know all of the law enforcement officials in your town, if it’s a small enough town. Larger urban areas, these systems, if they’re down, they’re not going to be able to accept your process payments in the first place. So really wanting to make sure that everything stays official relies on you to kind of get off of the phone with them. They usually spoof the phone numbers to the local precinct or whatever is nearest to you, and go and talk to literally any other officer at the precinct other than the one that they’re trying to pull that name from.

Katie Vernoy 6:22
And some of that, I think requires, like you said, getting into wise mind. Some of it requires having the ability to navigate the system. And I think, you know, this is something and this is as a woman, there have been times when if I am not convinced that the person pulling me over is actually legitimate, I should drive to the police station. And I think this is, this is similar advice. If you’re not sure that the person that’s showing urgency that you respond right now to this thing is who they say they are actually go to police station and determine that out. I recognize that not all folks are going to feel comfortable and safe with law enforcement. And so I think that’s another element of it. And so I think this, this can be a pretty dicey one, as far as just really empowering yourself to say no, to take action and to find ways that you can either get whatever information you actually need and or get to safety.

Curt Widhalm 7:19
The different version of this one that I’ve heard of is people posing as the IRS and running through a kind of very similar sort of procedure. I’ve talked with CPAs, who have said that the IRS will never call you. That you will always receive information from them via mail. So part of this is really just understanding that go through the official channels. If you are in trouble, you seem very cooperative in the first place. But don’t rush to necessarily do this, you know, if you’re really that much in trouble with things, contact your attorney in the first place and see what they advise as well. But knowing that this is a fairly common one that’s out there, you’re not alone in this one and rely on kind of the collective experience of people who have been targeted with this.

Katie Vernoy 8:12
And most of this scam seemed to be trying to tell someone that they are in trouble. And if you just pay me this trouble will go away. And to me, I mean, obviously a lot of these scams are trying to get money, just some way getting money or using your business as a way to be able to use like a stolen credit card or something like that. We’ll go into that in a little bit. But to me, you know, another one like this is somebody contacting you through your website contact form and saying that you’re using copyrighted images and that they’re going to go after you and you just pay this fee. And, and I think this one, I think probably there are some really strong ones there. Especially if they’re targeting like known website builders who are using, you know, the same pictures over and over again, or something like that, because then you didn’t pick the picture, you didn’t, you know, you don’t know the provenance of the picture that you picked, but they also were targeting other folks. And somebody’s like, I took that picture. And so like, sometimes, you know, it can, you know, as a community, if we communicate together, we can identify like, Yeah, this isn’t exactly legitimate. But I think it’s something where, you know, even legitimate claims where maybe you got it from Unsplash or Pexels, or whatever, and it was free at the time. If you don’t have the provenance for it, you may end up having to either take it down or pay a fee to have it on the website, if it’s now a paid only picture. But usually, folks, if they come after you and say something and you’re not sure, again, don’t immediately respond, like get your ducks in a row, and then take those ducks and decide what you’re going to do.

Curt Widhalm 9:46
Many of you know that I teach law and ethics and in this process, I’m not speaking for all of the legal profession. But in most of these cases if you are in trouble, you will not receive this information by email. You will receive a cease and desist letter or you will receive a subpoena in order to make an appearance that unless those things are properly delivered to you, an email that is vaguely sounding in some sort of authoritative way, will be followed up by something more official. At that point, you will need to definitely act but know that just in having to respond to an email right up front is kind of relying on you just trying to pay to make a problem go away. That’s not to say that these things aren’t sometimes valid. And one of the people in our space who went through this a while ago, Allison Puryear over at Abundance Practice Builders has a article that we’ll link to in the show notes about how she did what many of us have done in the past, which is search for free stock photos online, where it legitimately was a person who had the rights to the photographs, who was contacting her. And she described her whole process that had happened in a legitimate case over there. And she has some really wonderful recommendations as far as how to protect yourself. So we’ll include that as something in our show notes for you as well.

Katie Vernoy 11:15
We are not typically trained to be business people. That’s one of the things that you know, a lot of our colleagues works work to fix, as well as some of the stuff that we’ve supported as far as putting out business training as well. But it seems like across the business world, especially small businesses, there are going to be folks that get kind of into these little niche spaces and want to charge you for something that you can do for free or for very little money. And also can be very confusing. If you’re a corporation, you can start getting things about putting up human resources, flyers or having your corporate minutes or I mean, there’s a lot of stuff. And these may be legitimate businesses, but it’s something where it looks like the way they have formatted the mailer, or those types of things, it looks like they are a government entity telling you that you owe a fee. And so really with kind of distinction looking at do I actually need to register my trademark internationally? And is this a legitimate body that would do that, for me? Is this a fee that I need to pay? And then there’s this other one, and this was something where I totally fell for this, and I couldn’t figure out where my URL was for many years, is I you know, I was getting close to my renewal, and I got in the mail, your renewals due and it’s this much money. And so I was like, oh, okay, well, how convenient. And so I paid it. And it basically was I was agreeing to give my URL to another holder, it was still a legitimate company, I still own the rights to it, but I couldn’t find it to use it. It wasn’t in the stable of all of the other URLs that I own. Because I took for granted that only the person or only the company that held my URL was actually going to send me a notice to pay. And so I think, you know, as you get further and further along, there’s a lot of these things where, you know, you you search, you do a quick Google search, and you’re like, Okay, I want to do an EIN and someone’s like, hey, well do you know, you can get your EIN for $50 or something? And it’s like, oh, okay, and you start down the path, you’re like, wait a second, that’s something I can get for free. And you literally are filling in the same information, I almost fell for it. And I keep getting emails saying like, Hey, you didn’t finish it. But I didn’t put any any of the information in because I was like, scrolling down. And then I was like, I think I put my email address in and then I realized, oh, wait, they’re charging me money. I know, I can get an EIN for free. But it’s literally the same form, you just fill it out, you pay them $50. And then they file it for you, which is ridiculous. It’s so ridiculous. But it’s, you know, it’s one of those things, it’s buyers beware. But I think it’s important that you recognize people are going to try to get you to pay for stuff because you’re a business, even if you don’t need to have someone pay for it.

Curt Widhalm 13:59
And for a lot of our licenses, our information is publicly available. That there’s mailing lists of where your license is, there are directories of people who have business licenses that are publicly available information that some of these companies will buy and then just send out things. I know that there’s a company that probably buys it off of the employer development department here in California because every so often I’ll get letters that are like this vaguely sounding government ish agency like you know, the Center for Corporate Compliance or something like that, that is like you have to follow all of these rules, and if you just buy this package from us, then everything is fine and then like really fine print down at the bottom, it’s like this is an advertising service. But it’s things where use some common sense and if you have questions on things, then ask around, ask the communities. Come over to the modern therapist community be like Hey, I got this is this something that’s legit or not? Rely on some people who’ve been a little bit more experienced to get a more rounded out version of this before taking some action steps.

Katie Vernoy 15:10
These are the scams that target the business angle or the person like, Hey, I’ve messed up on my taxes or I’ve you know, failed to appear at a court appearance or, or those types of things. I think the ones that are most common that I think most folks get are the ones that folks posing as clients and and trying to maneuver in that space. And I feel like these take a very similar structure, and people are pretty savvy about them. But I think because this is a podcast on these scams for the newbies, I think we should share these as well. But the one that always sticks out is it usually starts in some way of a, of a parent or a spouse who is getting therapy for someone who’s coming into your area for a short period of time, or I want to give something to my family, you know, this is a gift. While I’m, I think one was recently like, well, I’m having cancer surgery, like there’s a lot of different little mechanisms where it’s, Hey, I’m an adult, I’m trying to get therapy for my adult family members, one or more family members, and I’m going to pay you and usually if you keep going down the rabbit hole with this person, then it gets to a place where they pay you too much and then ask for a refund for the difference or for you to pay forward to a driver or someone who is going to be providing the rest of the services for their family members, because they have some issue that they can’t do it or whatever. And those always seem like red flags. But I think with this one, I have been able to cut it off at a number of different parts just based on kind of how I operate and what I think is appropriate. But I’m curious how you’ve interacted with these ones, before I jump into my stuff.

Curt Widhalm 16:53
A lot of these ones involve kind of that overpayment up front, which usually it’s either a stolen credit card, or it’s a bogus check that by the time that it gets processed through, you know, I’ve seen this, I’ve had people attempt to be like, I’ll pay for, you know, 15 sessions upfront, and you can just take it out of the balance as these sessions come up. And then after like, two or three days after supposedly cashing the check, then you get asked for a refund. And so you cut a check back, then you’re gonna find out from your bank, oh, the check bounced, I’m out what I sent them back and whatever fees that the bank is charging me for depositing a check that bounced. Usually the safest ways and stuff like this is I tell people, I don’t take money for services that I have not yet provided, that we can pay as we go along. That usually short circuits, this one right up front, that you don’t want to be in a position where you’re holding a bunch of money for somebody else, it creates some weird power differentials in the therapeutic process, even if it was a legitimate thing. I think, you know, here over the last couple of years, I’m not seeing this one is common, as most people, especially with virtual therapy, have stopped taking checks altogether. And, but other ways of doing it is just kind of like, okay, we can work it out when your child, spouse, whoever it is, actually shows up to the office and this credit card or whatever can serve as a background payment or a secondarypayment.

Katie Vernoy 18:32
I’ve actually short circuited it even earlier than that, in saying, I don’t engage in services for adults who have not consented for treatment. And so you can have your spouse, child, reach out and set up a session, if you’d like to help pay for services, that’s wonderful. There’s a system within which that I do that. But you know, I’m not going to, you know, like, you would need to have this person reach out for me to start services. And I think that’s actually short circuited it pretty quickly. I think the difficulty is, is sometimes there are people who reach out and maybe they, you know, they communicate differently through email, maybe there, you know, because a lot of people say like, oh, it was phrased different, or they refuse to get on the phone to talk about it and only wanted to deal through email. And those things can be red flags, but they can also be legitimate things and so I always am a little bit leery about saying like, if it sounds like a scam, just don’t respond because I’ve had in the past and I think I’ve probably said this in an episode, right at the beginning. And I don’t remember what we were talking about, but like I had someone email that this person sent came up in my spam and I found it so I recommend go through your spam and make sure you’re not missing client inquiries. But the way that the problem was described was very strange. And it was, it was something where not necessarily an area of specialty but not something that was completely out of my wheelhouse. I responded to this person, I discussed it with them. And we decided to have an initial session. And all of the time, the whole time, I’m like, I don’t know if this is a scam or not, I don’t know if this person is trying to do XY and Z or not, you know, like, but I just kept going forward saying, like, hey, let’s, let’s go through this process. And it was actually, you know, a lovely client full fee for several sessions. And it was something where if I would have treated it like a scam, and I think a lot of people did, this person would not have gotten any treatment and that whole, like, therapists never respond, you know, kind of can can live on. And so I think it’s hard because there are some times when someone may reach out in a way that feels very different from how most clients reach out. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not someone that’s seeking services, it’s just we have to be aware and cautious. And so I try to overdo the, like, you know, make sure I’ve got the consent, don’t take payment upfront. You know, like all the pieces where it’s like, Okay, how many different times can I kind of do a little check, that’s just part of my routine, that will weed out folks who are actually a scam versus folks who are just engaging in the system in a different way, then kind of all of the therapists world is socialized that client should reach out for services.

Curt Widhalm 21:17
Another one that I came across, I’ll give credit to Joe Borders is an MFT, up in the Sacramento, California area. And we’ll link to his site that also links to a few of our things that we’ve discussed already. Apparently, people are also receiving text messages or emails that seem to be under some sort of services around, like, Hey, my wife, and I or my daughter, or I want to talk to you about this and has a link. I’ve always been taught don’t click on unsolicited links that you don’t know where they’re going. And this one seems to rely on kind of hiding something within wherever that, that link sends you to whether it is to put malware or something else on your computer, but just don’t click links that you don’t know what they are, those can lead to a lot of harm as well. So Joe Borders has some suggestions on his page of places that you can copy and paste the links into a reputable website that will say this is either a legitimate place, here’s where it goes to or here’s a phishing scam, but don’t click on unsolicited links.

Katie Vernoy 22:31
Yeah, and I think some of this stuff is just okay, what are the scams or the ways that people are targeted in the world. And I, at some point, I think there was a cybersecurity presentation that I saw. And oftentimes folks will not spoof email accounts, but they will make email accounts that are very, very similar. So it’ll be like Google dot something cool.com. And people will just see the Google or they’ll see whatever. And they’ll think that it’s coming from a legitimate Google email address, and will click a link or will respond and all of those things. And so I think phishing schemes and all of that stuff are pretty common. And so you know, I would even recommend, kind of, if you’re getting a lot of communication that you’re not sure about, or folks with group practices, different things like that, I think a cybersecurity training could be very helpful, because there’s a lot of different ways that businesses are targeted. And as your business gets bigger, there’s going to be different types of things that are targeted versus smaller businesses. And this was something that I think that in some of the world of you know, Facebook, therapist Facebook groups, I saw this, John Edwards was the person that kind of posted about this, but because we’re small, legitimate businesses, we have websites, we have, you know, email addresses, we have all those kinds of things that folks who steal identities and credit cards and stuff like that may try to charge stuff, and see if the credit card is still good, so that they can then go off and use a stolen credit card. So it’s not about targeting you in particular, it’s about checking from a small business where you might just take a copay, so they can do a quick $15 charge. And people don’t necessarily worry about it until much later, when they realize their credit card has been stolen or that their identity has been stolen. And so you know, people have gotten calls from somebody saying, like, Hey, you charged a whole bunch of money to my credit card that wasn’t mine. I’m not your client. And I think those things, sometimes it’s it’s one thing but sometimes it’s folks trying to test out credit cards that they’ve already stolen. And so it’s just that, you know, you’ve got a business that is easy to hide a charge in. I don’t know how that happens. Maybe there people have payment portals that are, you know, just to pay and not kind of the whole system where, like with the EHR that I have, you have to go in as a client to be able to charge a card but if you’re using some of the kind of external payment processing things, you may end up having somebody use your business to see if the credit card will go through.

Curt Widhalm 25:04
So a lot of just general practice advice on these kinds of things is be curiously skeptical when you are receiving unsolicited calls that, you know, I’ve also seen versions of these of like people posting from licensing boards that you’re in trouble with them that be skeptical of these things, hang up, call legitimate numbers from the offices of these departments. And if nothing else, let those departments know, let your professional organizations know of, you know, these are the kinds of messages that I’m receiving. Those organizations will usually have some kind of response that they blast out to their members with their licenses, hey, there’s a scam going around, be aware of it. It can be shameful if you’re the victim of one of these, that you got duped, hey, we’re highly educated people. And falling for one of these is embarrassing, but…

Katie Vernoy 26:02
Happens all the time.

Curt Widhalm 26:04
It does. It’s been around longer than I’ve been practicing. And I think it, unfortunately, will continue to happen. And so some of the best ways of protecting yourself on this is really just talking about it as it’s happening, talking about it after it happened, making sure that those messages continue to get elevated.

Katie Vernoy 26:24
And I think the pieces of advice just to kind of wrap it up one more time is don’t click on links you don’t know where they go. Don’t give out personal information, and especially don’t give out financial information. Don’t take payment upfront when you’re worried that somebody’s going to ask for a refund. And if iyou’re being addressed by some sort of official entity, make sure that you read all the way through, check the email address, check to see what’s being asked and contact the actual official entity if you’re not sure that this is some sort of a scammer or a shady business, trying to get your money or trying to get you out of your office or whatever. I mean, there’s there’s just some safety precautions that can be helpful to try to knock some of these things off. But as we’ve seen, folks continue to get more and more complex in their their systems and stronger in their mechanisms of being able to fool folks like spoofing emails or phone numbers. And so if you do get caught up in one of these things, please let people know because if you were, if you were tricked, other people will be too.

Curt Widhalm 27:36
If there’s anything that you think that we’re missing, let us know. You can do that either through our social media or come join our Facebook group, the Modern Therapist group and also be a resource for anybody else who might be posing some of the same challenges that they would be facing. And until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy.

Katie Vernoy 27:56
Thanks again to our sponsor, GreenOak Accounting.

Curt Widhalm 27:59
GreenOak Accounting specializes in working with therapists and private practice and they’ve helped hundreds of therapists across the country reach their financial goals. They offer a number of monthly packages to fit a growing practices needs from bookkeeping to CFO services. Other specialized services include Profit First Support, compensation planning and customized KPI dashboards. They help therapists achieve their clinical goals by making sure they have a profitable practice and offer unsurpassed support along the way.

Katie Vernoy 28:29
If you’re interested in scheduling a complimentary consultation, please visit their website at greenoakaccounting.com/consultation to learn more.

Curt Widhalm 28:39
This episode is also brought to you by Thrizer

Katie Vernoy 28:42
Thrizer is a new billing platform for therapists that was built on the belief that therapy should be accessible AND clinicians should earn what they are worth. Every time you build a client through Thrizer, an insurance claim is automatically generated and sent directly to this clients insurance. From there, Thrizer provides concierge support to ensure clients get their reimbursement quickly, directly into their bank account. By eliminating reimbursement by cheque, confusion around benefits and obscurity with reimbursement status, they allow your clients to focus on what actually matters rather than worrying about their money. It is very quick to get set up and it works great in complement with EHR systems.

Curt Widhalm 29:20
Their team is super helpful and responsive and the founder is actually a longtime therapy client who grew frustrated with his reimbursement times. Thrizer lets you become more accessible while remaining in complete control of your practice. Better experience for your clients during therapy means higher retention. Money won’t be the reason they quit on therapy, sign up using bit.ly/moderntherapists and use the code moderntherapists if you want to test Thrizer completely risk free. You will get one month of no payment processing fees meaning you earn 100% of your cash rate during that time.

Katie Vernoy 29:57
Once again sign up at bit.ly/moderntherapists and use the code moderntherapists if you want to test Thrizer completely risk free.

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