spring 2013

c m a   n e w s
Beware of surprise invoices from overseas medical directories, MDs warned


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A Halifax pediatrician has issued a warning to fellow physicians after he received a whopping bill from a company based in Portugal because he responded to its request to check his entry in the American Medical Directory.

By CMA Staff

A Halifax pediatrician has issued a warning to fellow physicians after he received a whopping bill from a company based in Portugal because he responded to its request to check his entry in the American Medical Directory.

Dr. Robin Whyte says he thought nothing of the form he received because he was used to receiving similar requests from the Canadian Medical Directory, which does not charge physicians whose names appear in its database.

Having made the relevant corrections, he signed the bottom and returned it. A month later he received an invoice for $1,421 for the entry in the directory.

When he protested, he was informed that by signing the form he had entered into a contract with the company even though there was no payment form attached to the original registration form. The company subsequently and repeatedly demanded payment.

“The small-print paragraph about the payment escaped my attention because it appeared to be in a separate section of the form that was concerned with pictures and additional text material,” said Dr. Whyte, who has ignored the three invoices he has since received.

He also noted that his entry in the directory contained several errors. “If you search the website under my name, you obtain a picture of a female doctor I’m male and a location map which puts me in a building about a kilometre from my place of work,” he said.

Whyte says he wants to ensure that Canadian physicians are aware of potential problems involving out-of-country medical directories.

“In my case, the parent business is not run from America but from Portugal, and it has no association with the American Medical Association,” he said.

A simple Google search reveals numerous additional complaints from physicians in several countries, including Canada who report being harassed by fake debt collectors that threaten legal action if the fees are not paid.

One British medical website, GPonline, reported that Novachannel, the company allegedly responsible for creating the directory scam, sold its directory business to another company in Portugal, which is now targeting physicians in Canada.

GPonline says the scam is widespread and that many physicians in the United Kingdom are already familiar with the issue. “This is a well-known scam,” one physician wrote in an online comment. “First rule do not pay anything. Second rule do not waste your time answering them.”

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