I never trust faxes.
Except for the occasional antiquated piece of paper that requires a signature that can be penned and sent right back, most of the spam that dribbles out of our office fax machine is a waste of a phone number. And sometimes we’ll even get a fax from someone who is apparently trying to steal our money.
Like this one:
Did you get this fax today, too? Seems like a lot of dentists throughout the country were targeted by some idiot that has never watched TV. Like, duh, don’t you know that there are all sorts of safeguards in this country against scam artists? That sooner or later when you pick up any checks that were mailed to your post office box and then when you deposit one, don’t you think that someone will be watching you?
Okay, so unless the American Dental Association has outsourced its money handling to another part of the country (and they’re not asking for your state and local dues anymore!), it’s pretty safe just to ignore this fax. Or, if you’re feeling creative, you can use it to test the rat-smelling of your business manager, but I wouldn’t recommend the possibility of throwing away over $500 just to reinforce something you probably already know.
Thanks to Dr. Craig Harder for sending me this copy so that I can chuckle at the stupidity of its sender, and possibly warn a few of the less-savvy users of heavy office equipment that the faxes they receive may not always behave themselves.
You have been naughty, fax machine. Time to shut you down.
Jan 19, 2012 UPDATE:
The ADA sent out this eMEMO today:
On January 3, all ADA member dentists with an email address in our database received a special communication from the ADA to alert them about fraudulent invoices that were faxed to many dental offices. As follow-up, we are providing members with an update on what has occurred since our initial communications.
On January 3, a number of member dentists contacted the ADA regarding the fraudulent invoices, prompting the Association to distribute an alert that afternoon to member and nonmember dentists, leadership and staff at state and local dental societies, recognized specialty organizations and other organizations and individuals within the dental community. A standby statement was also prepared for the media.
The alert stated that the ADA does not use fax communications to collect membership dues, and that the ADA does not sell, rent or publish in any way the fax numbers of current or former member dentists in our database. Additionally, all dues invoices for tripartite members are mailed from state or local dental societies, and invoices for other ADA “direct” membership categories are sent by mail as well.
The fraudulent fax appeared to be a standard invoice that asked the recipient to send a $575 payment to the American Dental Association/ADA Association, Membership Processing Dept., P.O. Box 1403, Brockton, MA 02303-1483.
Dentists whose offices were in receipt of a fax as described above were advised to not respond or send payment to the P.O. box.
In a statement from ADA Executive Director Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin, “Getting the word out and taking steps to protect our members have been our top priorities,” adding that there was no breach of ADA information or member data.
Update on actions by the ADA
The ADA has continued to work closely with U.S. Postal Service authorities. The following is a brief summary of what has occurred to protect our members:
- On Jan. 5, within 48 hours of hearing about this issue, the ADA filed a civil action in the Boston federal court that issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) requiring that any mail sent to the P.O. box to be held by the U.S. Postal Service and not made available to the individual renting the P.O. box.
- On January 17, the TRO issued previously was converted into a preliminary injunction, and the file has been unsealed.
- The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is considering instituting an investigation, and has also referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston for possible criminal prosecution.
What to do if you received one of the faxed invoices
Do not send a payment. Additionally, if you still have a copy of what you believe may be a fraudulent invoice, please forward it to Tom Elliott, deputy chief legal counsel, by email at “firstname.lastname@example.org” or by fax to 312.440.2562, along with your name and ADA number.
What to do if you sent a payment to the P.O. box
So far the Post Office in Brockton has received more than 170 pieces of mail to the P.O. box. It is hoped that the action the ADA took to seal the post office box occurred before any checks were received, as the box was empty when it was sealed on January 5.
•As a precaution, if your office has sent a check to the P.O. box, we encourage you to “stop payment” on the check. While there is normally a small cost associated with this, there is also the comfort of knowing your check cannot be cashed.
•We also ask that you contact the ADA Member Service Center at 800.621.8099. ADA staff is assembling a list of dentists known to have sent checks so we can communicate with and reconcile records with the U.S. Post Office. You will be asked to complete a release form that will allow us to verify if the P.O. box has received a check from you. Additionally, we are told the U.S. Postal Service plans to communicate directly with those individuals who have sent mail to the P.O. box.
Dentists are urged to share this information with all staff on their dental team and direct further questions or concerns to the ADA Member Service Center at 800.621.8099.