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OCR Warns of Scam Email

Posted in Electronic Health Records, Fraud and Abuse, HIPAA and the HITECH Act, Litigation, Privacy and Data Protection, White Collar

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced on November 28, via its Security Listserv, that a private cybersecurity business had circulated an email marketing its services using a fake HHS letterhead. The OCR also placed an alert on its HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Audit Program website.

Although OCR’s email to the listserv called the rogue email a phishing attempt, that was not technically the case as the goal of the email was apparently to get recipients to visit the company’s website and purchase its services, not to obtain financial information simply by tricking people into clicking on a link.  “Phishing” or not, the company that perpetrated the scam will likely face severe consequences.

The full text of the OCR’s alert is as follows:

Alert: Phishing Email Disguised as Official OCR Audit Communication
November 28, 2016

It has come to our attention that a phishing email is being circulated on mock HHS Departmental letterhead under the signature of OCR’s Director, Jocelyn Samuels. This email appears to be an official government communication, and targets employees of HIPAA covered entities and their business associates.

The email prompts recipients to click a link regarding possible inclusion in the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Rules Audit Program. The link directs individuals to a non-governmental website marketing a firm’s cybersecurity services.

In no way is this firm associated with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the Office for Civil Rights. We take the unauthorized use of this material by this firm very seriously. In the event that you or your organization has a question as to whether it has received an official communication from our agency regarding a HIPAA audit, please contact us via email at

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