The Better Business Bureau has been receiving an influx of inquiries from seniors who are being targeted by robocallers offering free medical emergency alert systems. These pre-recorded messages state that the recipient of the call has been given a free medical alert system that has already been paid for by a friend or family member, so there is “no cost whatsoever” for the recipient. They are then instructed to press #1 to accept or #5 to decline. The most frequently used phone number reported to the BBB is 615-268-6315.
Many seniors who have reported this call to the BBB are unsure of the company name. They report receiving calls from “Med Alert,” or “Life Alert.” One Cedar Rapids couple forwarded their robocall message to the BBB. The message does not clearly identify any company name, but simply states they are calling in regards to delivering the “free medical alert system” directly to the recipient’s home. This serves as a reminder to be aware that scammers will often try to play on the name of reputable or more widely known companies. In this case companies such as MedicAlert and Life Alert seem to be on the forefront people’s mind. The BBB cautions consumers to be on the lookout for slight name changes, as well as implied endorsements or affiliations with legitimate entities.
The BBB also advises consumers to watch for the following additional red flags when dealing with telemarketers or robocalls:
• “Free” Offers– Be wary of “free” offers that require you to pay a handling charge or other fees. In the case of medical alert systems, ask if there are additional monthly charges. If the telemarketer says a friend or family member bought the unit, ask for the name of the person and verify with them before agreeing to anything.
• Scare Tactics– Being trapped in your own home with no way to call for help can be a scary situation for anyone, but for many seniors, it can be a realistic scenario. Nonetheless, don’t fall for scare tactics.
• Calls for Immediate Action– Listen for language like “This offer is good for today only!”
• Reluctance to Answer Questions Directly, Provide Contact Info, or Complete Offer Details- Tell the caller you will not provide any information or make any decisions until you get all details in writing.
• Robocalls- You can also file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at: https://esupport.fcc.gov/ccmsforms/form1088.action?form_type=1088C. While the FCC cannot award monetary or other damages, filing a complaint allows them to investigate violators.
Lastly, call your Better Business Bureau. If you are genuinely interested in medical alert device, the BBB can help you find a business you can trust.