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TDCI: Learn to Avoid a Collision with Car Accident Clinic Scammers

Avoid ‘Accident Clinics’ That Prey on Consumers After Auto Accidents
Thursday, October 25, 2018 | 07:58am

NASHVILLE –Automobile accidents can leave victims upset, disoriented, and unsettled. While consumers’ priorities after an accident should include recovering from any injuries and contacting the appropriate insurance providers, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s (TDCI) Division of Consumer Affairs and the Tennessee Attorney General advises consumers to be aware of individuals who may prey upon victims in order to lure them into the “accident clinic” trap.  

Accident clinics target automobile accident victims in order to make money by creating the false impression that the clinics either work for a government agency or are part of an insurance company. The clinics aim to quickly sign up accident victims as patients before they can talk to their own doctor or lawyer. Some clinics use telemarketers to set appointments with accident victims and often call accident victims shortly after an accident.  Other clinics may also contact accident victims either by mail or text messages.

“Consumers are vulnerable after an auto accident,” said TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “To prevent being trapped by an accident clinic scammer, consumers should proceed with caution and conduct due diligence to ensure they are not being scammed.”

To help raise awareness of accident clinics scams, TDCI shares the following consumer tips.

After an Accident

  • Time is of the essence to these scammers. Within days or even hours after an automobile accident, consumers may receive phone calls, texts, or letters from telemarketers offering to refer them to a clinic. These are often healthcare providers who have never treated or seen those consumers before.
  • Telemarketers may pretend to be from a victim assistance group, an insurance company, the government, or a law enforcement agency. Consider answering calls or texts only from people you know.
  • If you are contacted after an accident and the caller claims to be a representative from your insurance company or the other party’s insurance company, never give out any identifying information until you call your insurance company directly and confirm that they are calling you.  Be careful: Sometimes scammers “spoof” phone numbers and names so they look real on Caller ID.
  • Do not respond to letters from healthcare providers you do not know who contact you for the first time immediately after an accident.  If you are injured, go to your own doctor for treatment.

Potential Red Flags of Accident Clinic Scams

  • When you go to a clinic and are seen by a healthcare professional, they tell you that you are definitely injured and you will need many treatments.
  • The healthcare professional tells you that your pain is worse than you think it is and that insurance will only cover treatments if you say your pain is very bad.
  • Despite how badly the healthcare professional says your condition is, the clinic won’t treat you unless you sign up with them for treatments.  The clinic often requires you to hire or sign up with one of its lawyers too.
  • The clinic insists that you won’t have to pay for the treatment.  The clinic may tell you that the insurance of the at-fault driver will cover the costs.

Earlier this year, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a new law prohibiting some healthcare providers (though not chiropractors) and their associates, from soliciting victims of an accident or disaster for the purpose of marketing their services within 30 days from the accident.*  (The law is enforced by the Tennessee Department of Health.  If you feel are a potential victim of a violation of this law, you can submit a complaint to the Dept. of Health here.)

If you have concerns regarding communications from an insurance company or have questions about claims practices, contact the TDCI Consumer Insurance Services Division at (615) 741-2218 or visit tn.gov/insurance.

For more consumer tips, resources, or to file a complaint related to a business, visit the Division of Consumer Affairs at tn.gov/consumer.

*Please note: This is applicable to "marketing services of the healing arts related to the accident or disaster" applying to violations occurring on or after July 1, 2018.

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