Medical Alert Scams Target Seniors
Having a medical alert system is one of the best ways to ensure your safety should you fall or have a life-threatening medical episode, such as a stroke or a heart attack. Unfortunately, however, there are scammers out there who aim to take advantage of your health concerns.
This article will explain how these scammers operate, what to do if you get such a phone call, and how you can prevent such phone calls in the future.
What Is the Medical Alert Scam?
Like almost all scams, the aim of the medical alert scam is to trick individuals into giving out personal information such as bank account and credit card numbers, or even social security numbers, which they can then use for fraudulent purposes. This constitutes identity theft, which can lead to financial difficulties such as a poor credit rating, the inability to get a loan, or lengthy battles with banks and credit card companies to restore your good name. So it’s important to know what you can do to prevent this from happening to you!
First, you should be aware of how the medical alert scam operates. The initial way that the scammers will contact you is through a “robo-call”: an automated message will inform you that your doctor or a family member has ordered you a medical alert system and all you need to do is press “1” to confirm delivery or to complete the transaction. Often, these scammers will steal the name of an existing company or fabricate an official sounding company name in order to lend credibility to the phone call.
If you press “1” (or whatever number they’ve instructed you to press), you will then be connected to a “representative” or “associate” who will ask for your credit card or bank details to keep on file should any service charges be incurred while you use your new medical alert device. They may also say that while the device itself is free, there is a monthly or annual charge that you will be responsible for, hence the need for your personal information. If you hesitate or resist giving this information, they might even threaten legal action, stating that you owe them payment and they will come after you for it. But while this seems like a tense and frightening situation, it doesn’t have to be! Keep reading to find out how to deal with these scammers!
What Should I Do if They Call Me?
If and when you are contacted by a medical alert scammer, or any other scams targeting senior citizens, feel free to hang up at any time. Companies are only allowed to make “robo-calls” if you’ve done business with them in the past, so if you don’t recognize the name of the company that they provide you with, immediately hang up. If you hear the word “free” that should also be a signal that you’re being scammed – nothing in this life is free! When hanging up at this stage in the phone call, be sure not to press any buttons – doing so will alert the scammers that it is indeed an “active” phone line and they may try contacting you again.
If you do “press 1” and get connected to a “representative”, do not under any circumstances give out your bank account or credit card information. Simply state that you do not buy anything or conduct business over the phone and that they can mail (not email) you any information or documents. This will often be enough to scare the scammers off, as their operations usually do not extend into the postal service, but sometimes they will become persistent and even threatening. If they do become coercive, simply hang up or level back with some threats of your own: that you’ll contact the Better Business Bureau or the doctor or family member who supposedly bought the medical alert system for you.
How Can I Stop This From Happening Again?
After getting off the phone, be sure to add your number to the “Do Not Call” registry to ensure that your number is no longer passed along to companies or made available to scammers. You should also be sure to alert your friends and family members to the scam by letting them know the name of the “company” or organization that called you, the number they called from, and the details of what was offered (free medical alert system, discounted prescriptions, etc.) to decrease the likelihood of them falling for these false promises.
Medical alert systems are an excellent safety measure for the elderly: they save so many lives each year, and they can help you feel safe and secure in your home, knowing that they authorities will be alerted should you fall or have a stroke or heart attack. But be sure to get your medical alert system from a reputable company that you trust – not some scammer over the phone!
Unfortunately, scams targeting senior citizens are increasingly common, and identity theft is a serious issue that can have far-reaching repercussions. Hopefully this article has alerted you to one of the most prevalent scams out there, and given you useful information for how you can keep yourself one step ahead of the scammers!