Date
23 October 2017
Hospital emergency numbers are being mistaken for those of scammers and telemarketers with disastrous consequences. Photo: HKEJ, baidu
Hospital emergency numbers are being mistaken for those of scammers and telemarketers with disastrous consequences. Photo: HKEJ, baidu

Woman hangs up 17 times on hospital fearing a scam

Rampant phone scams have made people increasingly reluctant to take calls from numbers starting with the digit “three” — with serious consequences.

A woman hung up 17 times on a hospital fearing a scam, news website hk01.com reports.

A doctor from the unnamed hospital wrote in a Facebook post that the call was in relation to a taxi driver who had figured in a traffic accident and been seriously injured. He needed emergency surgery.

The driver was conscious at the time but the doctor decided to inform his wife before the operation.

However, the woman hung up right after taking a call from the hospital.

Nurses said all hospital numbers start with the number “three” which the woman might have mistaken for those of scammers or telemarketers.

Altogether, 17 calls were made to the wife and all of them were unsuccessful.

When the hospital finally got through, the woman was skeptical and asked the doctor why he did not use her husband’s phone.

The doctor said the man was in no condition to unlock his phone as he was seriously injured. The woman agreed to go to the hospital.

People have lost cash and valuables to phone scammers who have become increasingly sophisticated in targeting victims, reports say.

On the other hand, dogged telemarketers have been an increasing source of complaints from the public.

Some medical staff said many patients have missed out on opportunities to to have their medical appointments moved to an earlier date because they would not answer their phones, Apple Daily reports.

According to the website of the Hospital Authority, the phone numbers of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital and Caritas Medical Centre start with “three”, while those of Queen Mary Hospital, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital, Tuen Mun Hospital, Kwong Wah Hospital and United Christian Hospital start with the number “two”.

William Wu, founder of phone call management app HKJunkCalls, was quoted as saying by the Ming Pao Daily that there are a number of apps that support a “white list” containing the phone numbers of universities, charity organizations and hospitals.

Wu said these “white lists” are reliable as their sources can be easily verified from public domains.

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