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Moffitt Cancer Center security chief: Robocalls target patients by faking they are from hospital

“They are extracting information that can be detrimental to those patients."
Moffitt Chief Security Officer Dave Summitt testifies to Congress about robocalls. (YouTube screenshot)
Moffitt Chief Security Officer Dave Summitt testifies to Congress about robocalls. (YouTube screenshot)
Published Apr. 30, 2019
Updated May 1, 2019

The chief security officer at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa warned Congress on Tuesday that patients and hospital employees are receiving robocalls from phone numbers that appear to be coming from Moffitt -- but they are actually scammers trying to get their personal information.

Dave Summitt said Moffitt received 6,600 calls over a 90-day period from numbers using Moffitt’s caller ID, even though the call was coming from someone outside the organization. That 6,600-figure is in addition to another kind of robocall that is targeting Moffitt patients and community members outside the organization.

“If they happen to get a hold of one of our patients and it’s called Moffitt Cancer Center, they are absolutely going to answer that phone and they are extracting information that can be detrimental to those patients," he said.

Summitt made the comments during a hearing Tuesday where House lawmakers discussed ways to crack down on robocalls. More than 3.8 billion robocalls were placed in Florida in 2018, according to YouMail, a voicemail provider that tracks the number of robocalls and also offers a blocking service.

Robocalls are pre-recorded messages that are sent to thousands of phones at once. Some are from politicians or businesses using them for legitimate reasons, but a significant number are illegal and are designed to scam people.

“These aren’t just robocalls of annoyance," Summitt said. “This goes much deeper. It is now starting to impact patient care at facilities across the nation.”

Summitt’s testimony begins around the 25-minute mark of this video.

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