ECLECTIC RANT: Beware of a Medical Alert Scam Sweeping the Nation

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday August 23, 2013 - 12:02:00 PM

The Better Business Bureau reports that a medical alert telemarketing scam is sweeping the nation this year. Seniors and their families or caretakers are frequent targets of this scam.

In recent months, consumers have received calls – often repeatedly – from telemarketers offering a “senior medical alarm” or similar personal security device. The calls come from untraceable numbers in the 314, 636 and 573 area codes.

Some of the automated calls ask consumers to “punch 1” if they wish to order a device or want further information. In other cases, salespeople told consumers that they were eligible for a free system or that a system had been paid for on their behalf and the salesperson needed to confirm shipping instructions. Consumers who are receptive to the sales pitch are asked for financial information to cover a monthly monitoring service fee of $34.95.

In many cases, senior citizens never received the devices but were still charged the monthly service fee. Others were unable to obtain refunds or return the items.

Better Business Bureaus across the nation have reported similar calls coming from companies using the names Medical Emergency, Medical Alert Company, First Alert Company, Life Alert USA, Lifewatch, Senior Safety Alert, Senior Emergency Care, Senior Safe Alert, Emergency Medical Alert Systems or Medical Alarms Hewitt.

Life Alert, the California firm that advertises “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” has sued LifeWatchUSA and Connect America, two businesses that used names similar to its brand in robo-call marketing schemes. Life Alert also has posted a warning about the scammers on its website. The company says it does not employ telemarketers to make cold calls to potential customers.  

These are telemarketing scammers are trying to mislead and defraud consumers by using a trademarked name like "Life Alert" so they can get the consumer's address, credit card number and bank information to charge you the consumer. 

Consumers should hang up if they receive unsolicited calls for medical equipment from unfamiliar companies. In many cases, these robo-calls are fraudulent attempts to obtain financial information that can be used to commit identity theft or that result in recurring charges to a victim’s credit card or bank account. 

Victims of this scam can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission