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Internet security tips.

Allowing potential patients to make enquiries by email can be a very cost effective way to promote your business. In most cases the results are good for both the enquirer and the practitioner.

From time to time, however, members contact the ATMS office with concerns they have regarding contacts received via email. These contacts generally start innocently enough, and initially seem genuine. However, concerns arise after several exchanges between the member and the enquirer. The members become suspicious that the enquirer is attempting to improperly obtain money, or bank account or other details.

Consequently, you must always exercise added care when dealing with unsolicited approaches received by the Internet.

Some tips to help you are:

* Does the approach seem reasonable? Remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

* Treat the Internet approach exactly the same as you would if the person had knocked on your door. You would not show a visitor to your house where you keep your valuables, so why tell an email enquirer your financial details?

* Be more than extremely wary of any request for you to pay any funds for any reason, or for payments to be made by or to a third party. Cease all communications immediately.

* Any approach via the Internet should be answered by a simple response detailing how the person may make an appointment, your fees, how payment may be made and possibly your relevant qualifications/specialities. There will rarely be a need to provide any additional details. If the person seeks additional information, they may be genuine but be alert.

* Never reveal your bank account details in response to an email inquiry. Transfers direct to your bank account can be a useful payment method, but it is suggested this payment method be reserved for your regular patients.

* Do not provide specific details of any EFTPOS facilities you use. A patient has absolutely no need to know those details. A patient need only know which credit and/or debit cards you accept, or don't accept.

* Never provide personal details about yourself, for example your date of birth, that you would not normally provide.

* Do not follow any links to websites provided by the enquirer. Similarly, do not open any attachments sent by the enquirer. You should always only visit websites you know to be safe, and only open attachments which you expected to receive, and expect to be safe.

* As for all dealings on the Internet, ensure you have up-to-date and good Internet security software installed.

* Become alert if the email exchanges continue for longer than expected, especially if new or unexpected 'difficulties' are being reported by the enquirer.

* If you have any doubts, immediately cease any contact with an Internet enquirer. You do not need to provide any reason to the enquirer. You should simply cease correspondence.

* Be aware of people who are enquiring from overseas. Although such an enquirer might be genuine, ask yourself this: Do you make healthcare or related appointments in a foreign country before a planned visit to that country?

* Be aware of persons requesting bookings for a group of persons. It will generally be unusual that a group of people will want to book your services. Always check out such a request carefully. It might be genuine, for example a sporting team or a group say on a charity walk might require some general massage services, but ensure you are satisfied the request is genuine before proceeding. Remember ,that in most instances a group, even one from out of town or from overseas, will have their own healthcare arrangements already in place, so ask yourself why are they now seeking your services?

* Trust your instincts. If it does not 'sound' or 'feel' right, then it probably is not. Never do anything that you are not completely comfortable with.

* Always stay completely within your professional boundaries. Regardless of the request, only provide the healthcare services you would normally provide. Remember you are not a bank, travel agent, local representative etc!
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Author:Boylan, Matthew
Publication:Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Mar 1, 2010
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