Barbara Adams, 70, keeps getting one of those annoying robocalls that she just knows has to be a scam. The voice implies that somebody, her doctor or maybe her children, signed her up for a medical alert system.
It’s all free, the recording implies.
“And everything is ready to be sent to your home,” said Adams, who lives in Dearborn Heights.
Adams said she even phoned her daughter to double check if maybe she did sign up for some service. But no, the daughter didn’t pay for any medical alert system for her mother.
“I couldn’t believe it. They called me again Saturday,” Adams said.
The Medical Alert System scam is in full swing in Michigan, as well as other states including New York, Texas, Wisconsin and Kentucky. The Michigan Attorney General’s Office has received about 50 complaints about this scam in the past two weeks, according to Joy Yearout, director of communications for Attorney General Bill Schuette.
The scumbaggery against seniors has reached a super-low point with this con job. Who doesn’t know a senior who fears a break-in? Or a widow who wonders what would happen in a medical emergency? Why not tug at the heartstrings a little more and claim that someone cares so much about them that a loved one or medical professional even signed them up for this “free service”?
Then, of course, smack someone on a fixed income with a big bill, if they fall for the phony pitch.
The trick is that if seniors do agree to the system in some cases it can cost $35 a month or more to operate. This could also be a way for con artists to get hold of bank or credit card information or even a Social Security number to use later in ID theft. Or a way for someone to pressure seniors into paying for other equipment or services.
Authorities said in some cases, after consumers press a button to accept the offer, they quickly receive another call asking for personal information, including credit card numbers.
“The call appears to target the elderly, disabled and diabetic,” the Better Business Bureau warned in a statement. “The automated message says ‘that someone has ordered a free medical alert system for you, and this call is to confirm shipping instructions.’ ”
Adams has gotten three or four of these calls about this so-called “free system.” She keeps hanging up.
One Plymouth retiree said his wife got the first call in March after going to an emergency room with a dislocated shoulder. When she got the first computerized call, she pressed one of the numbers to talk to a live person who then firmly insisted she had to accept shipment of the medical alert device because it was ordered for her. When she asked who ordered it, the person said he was not at liberty to say who ordered it.
The retiree promptly hung up when the man then asked for her address. But the Plymouth couple said the calls keep coming fairly regularly.
Some computerized calls can claim they’re associated with an insurance company or another well-known name. Some scams even claim that free services come through Medicare, which is not the case at all.
The Federal Trade Commission took action in March against Instant Response Systems, based on charges of violating telemarketing rules and violations of the unordered merchandise statute. Instant Response Systems is based in Brooklyn, N.Y., and also does business as Medical Alert Services. The FTC said in that case telemarketers would claim the monitoring is free but consumers would have to pay $817 to $1,602 for the service. Payment plans were supposedly dependent on a consumer’s financial situation.
In many cases, the FTC said, Instant Response Systems sent letters, bogus invoices and even threatened elderly consumers who did not order the product and claimed that the consumer owed money for it. In some cases, consumers were sent medical alert pendants that they did not order. An FTC complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.
Some recorded calls are actually made to sound as if they are “live” with background noise.
Oh, yes, the scammers are clever and can make many things sound just believable enough to make someone think that the offer could possibly be real.
The BBB is telling consumers just to hang up the phone, do not press any buttons and if someone does talk to you, be sure to first ask for the company’s physical address. If the representative wants your address but won’t give out its own address, it’s a red flag to a scam.
Contact Susan Tompor: 313-222-6823 or email@example.com