Know Your Company – Don’t Commit Fraud
You may be part of diagnostic fraud and not even know it. There are many online fraudulent websites that are “diagnosing” patients with mental and emotional disabilities with a questionnaire no person-to-person interaction between the clinician and patient. As a result, many states are cracking down of “Service Dog Fraud”. “Service Dog Fraud” includes therapy animals and Emotional Support Animals (ESAs). As of March 2018, there are 22 states with both criminal and civil penalties for “Service Dog Fraud” according to Michigan State University Animal Legal & Historical Center. This includes jail time and hefty fines.
Remember that a service dog has its own strict definition and guidelines from ADA. For Therapy Animals and ESAs, getting a proper diagnosis with a state licensed mental health professional using synchronous communication is the best way to avoid being caught up in “Service Dog Fraud”. Look for online sites that will put you in touch with an independent properly licensed mental health professional. Look to see if you can speak with a customer service representative. Online-only transactions are suspect. Ask if you will be able to personally speak with the mental health professional and what state(s) are they licensed in. Make sure he/she is licensed in your state. These simple steps will help you from becoming involved in “Service Dog Fraud”.