A medical billing scam begins with an advertisement for a work-at-home opportunity. The ad may tell you that you can earn $20,000 to $45,000 a year working at home doing medical billing. However, many promoters of these schemes misrepresent the earnings potential of their businesses and may not provide important pre-investment information to you, which they are required by law to provide to you. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has brought many charges against such companies.
What Should I Look Out For?
Medical billing opportunities may appear on Internet ads or in the classified sections of newspapers. These ads may appear next to legitimate ads for hospital medical claims processors. These ads may promise considerable income while claiming that no experience is required. When you call the toll-free number, the representative may try to get you to sign up by further exaggerating the attractiveness of the opportunity. You may have to pay a fee of $300 to $500 in exchange for the information and resources of the company (i.e. a software program to process the claims and a list of clients).
What Is the Reality?
In reality, few who pay for such opportunities will find clients or make much money at all. There is a lot of competition in medical billing field and those seeking to enter the market have a tough time. Promoters of such opportunities are looking to make money off of unsuspecting consumers and do not care whether or not you make any money. It is also unlikely that you will ever get a refund from the promoter if you demand one.
How Can I Protect Myself?
When confronted with a medical billing opportunity, you should:
- Ask for any names of previous buyers so you can call them for references.
- If you are provided with the software of a company other than the promoter, check with that company to see if they know anything about the promoter.
- Seek out local organizations for medical claims processors or medical billing businesses to see if they know anything about the company. Also consult local doctors. These people can give advise you on the medical billing field.
- Discuss any agreement or payment with an attorney, account, or business advisor before signing anything.
- Consult the state Attorney General's office, the local Better Business Bureau, and the state consumer protection agency.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Been Defrauded?
If you think you have fallen victim to a medical billing scam, you should contact the promoter and try to get your money back. Tell them that you will notify law enforcement and other officials. Make sure to record all your conversations and correspondence. Keep track of all the documentation that you send to the company, especially any original copies of the documents. If all else fails, you can file a complaint with the FTC, the Attorney General's office of your state, the local postmaster, the local Better Business Bureau, the local consumer protection offices, or the advertising manager of the publication that ran the advertisement.
Do I Need a Lawyer Experienced with Medical Billing Scams?
An experienced lawyer may be able to help you in determining whether or not you have been a victim of such a scam. A lawyer would also be able to help you in dealing with any government agencies or litigation you may encounter.