Avoid medical alert device swindles
Cause for Alarm By Sid Kirchheimer
a Federal Trade Commission investigation—allegedly up the ante with
“They called seniors claiming they
had already ordered a medical alert
device and threatening them with a
lawsuit if they didn’t pay,” says FTC
attorney Arturo DeCastro. Jason (aka
Yaakov) Abraham, who runs Instant
Response Systems, did not respond
to telephoned requests for comment.
If you feel you or a loved one needs
a medical alert device, get recommendations from your health care provider or a social service agency.
When you call companies, ask for
documentation about fees before
providing payment accounts. Some
hospitals and aging services agencies
have subsidized programs. But if you
don’t qualify, you may need to pay a
one-time installation fee of around
$100 plus $1 to $2 per day for
device rental and monitoring.
Other companies require you
to purchase the device. In the
meantime, you can foil scammers with these five tips:
Hang up on unsolicited offers.
Don’t even ask for sales information from cold callers: You could
be targeted for “pay us or else” intimidation
later on, says DeCastro.
Flee from “free.” Medicare, Medicaid and
most insurance companies typically don’t pay
for this equipment. In rare cases when they do,
a doctor’s recommendation is required—and
you’ll know about it in advance.
Reject robocalls. They’re illegal unless you
have contacted the company. So assume that
any unsolicited prerecorded sales call is the
work of scammers.
Don’t respond to offers to “opt out” of future
calls. That alerts callers to a working number.
Don’t pay for anything you didn’t order. “Even
if legal action is threatened,” says DeCastro. ;
to sue if
The calls can grab your atten- tion as a grim recorded voice warns of increasing rates of
death and injury from a fall or other
home-alone medical emergency.
But the real incentive to proceed
and “press 1” may be the promise of
a free medical alert device that will
quickly bring help when you need it the most.
Here’s what is likely to happen if you press 1:
A live telemarketer comes on the line, and what
was touted as a no-charge ofer becomes a full
press to get your credit card or bank account
information for supposed monitoring fees or
other expenses associated with the device.
Give out that information and the possible
result is identity theft.
Officials warn that scammers are behind
many of these robocalls, sometimes stealing
the names of reputable manufacturers or in-
venting corporate names that often include
the word “senior.”
Some of the callers falsely claim that your
doctor ordered the device for you. Others—
such as Instant Response Systems of New
York, which was recently shut down following
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof
Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.