Some see older Americans as easy prey when it comes to scams and fraud. With technology advancing constantly, scammers have gotten smarter about how they can prey on older adults. Unfortunately, the medical alert system industry is a common group for scammers to target.
There are steps that you can take in order to protect yourself and your loved ones from scammers.
The saying “too good to be true” is something to consider when you are sorting through offers from companies. A common scam in the medical alert system industry is offering a free medical alert system. While not everyone is trying to scam you, it is important that you are cautious and do your research before committing to any type of company.
If a medical alert company contacts you about being the recipient of a new medical alert system free of charge, but then asks for your bank account number, it is time to hang up the phone. Do not give anyone your bank account information. This can be part of medical alert system scams that have been making their way through unsuspecting older adults.
Your financial information such as bank account number, Social Security number, and credit card number can all give scammers easy access to your personal information in order to commit identity theft. If you are in the market to purchase a medical alert system, there are safeguards in place with each legitimate company to ensure your bank account, and identity, remain protected.
These types of scams are constantly changing. As soon as one is found out, another starts up in its place.
A common scam starts with a phone call to a senior that opens with a recorded message. The recorded message states that the call recipient can press “1” for more information on the pitch. After pressing “1”, you will then be connected to someone who says an anonymous person has paid for them to receive a free medical alert system. The caller will then say that in order to claim the alert button, they must provide their bank or credit card information for collecting the monthly monitoring fees for the emergency response system.
In another version of this scam, the telemarketer may claim that either the individual’s physician or the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has paid for them to have the medical alert system. They may also claim that taking advantage of their deal will grant access to additional offers such as thousands of dollars in grocery store coupons. The mention of winning a grand amount of money should be another automatic sign that this phone call is a scam.
Some scammers may go so far as to state their medical alert system was recommended by the American Heart Association, National Institute on Aging, American Diabetes Association, and the American Red Cross.
Another scam to watch out for is scamming companies using the widely recognized name Life Alert emergency response system or another popular brand name such as Medical Guardian or America Senior Safety. In these life alert scams, they will claim that you have received a free Life Alert button and you will need to provide your financial information to get the monthly monitoring services from the call center. In this case, they are planning to steal your credit information and not actually sign you up for any Life Alert system.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has stated that with technology constantly making advances, it is hard to catch and stop scammers before they are able to target victims. It is now easy and cheap for scammers to send out thousands of pre-recorded phone calls using auto-dialers and fake caller IDs, which makes tracking them even more difficult.
Even if you can list your phone number on the Do Not Call Registry, scammers that use robocalls ignore the over 220 million phone numbers on that list.
If you receive a call that you believe to be one of these scams, simply hang up the phone. If you do continue in the call, do not ever give them any of your personal information such as your bank account number, Social Security number, Medicare number, or even your date of birth.
It is very important to know and understand that just having a caller ID will not necessarily help you pick out calls that are genuine and calls that are scams. You must know what to do in the case of a scammer getting you on the phone.
When you receive scam calls, report them to the FTC by calling 1-800-382-1222 or visiting ftc.gov/complaint.