Local News

State employees targeted by telemarketing scheme costing thousands

The Vermont Department of Human Resources (DHR) is warning members of the State Employees’ Health Plan about a telemarketing practice promoting compound prescription drugs that can cost thousands of dollars.

The telemarketing calls, apparently similar to those received by consumers in neighboring states, market a compounded pain gel or cream. The caller asks whether the consumer is in pain, requests the consumer’s personal information, and then contacts the consumer’s doctor directly to request the medication be prescribed. The prescription is later billed to the consumer’s health insurance, at a cost of several thousand dollars.

“We are very concerned that this telemarketing practice has made its way to Vermont and to state employees and retirees,” said DHR Commissioner Maribeth Spellman. “Giving out personally identifying information over the phone is dangerous, as it can be used in many ways, including identity theft, or sale to third parties. Also, medical issues are best discussed with a physician one-on-one.”

The company targeting Vermonters goes by the name “Express Pharmacy Services,” which is very similar to the name of the pharmacy benefit management company, Express Scripts, Inc., that works with the state. Express Scripts never requests such information from consumers over the phone. Additionally, the calls may come from a Vermont number. This could cause confusion for the recipient of the call.

Commissioner Spellman urges the public to report any suspicious phone calls.

“If you receive this call, make note of the number, and any statements made by the caller, and notify the Vermont Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Assistance,” Commissioner Spellman concluded.

Complaints can be filed with the Vermont Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Assistance Program at www.uvm.edu/consumer or by calling 800-649-2424.

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