Phone scams targeting the elderly are on the rise, warns the Better Business Bureau. Telemarketers call offering seniors a free medical alert system that was never ordered. The phone calls are a scam intended to get the senior’s personal information and credit card number.
The robocalls claim to represent the well known “Life Alert” medical alert system (they of the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”), and state that a system has been ordered for them and will be sent to them at no charge. The consumer is directed to press a number to speak to a live salesperson who will then request credit or bank account numbers. Life Alert has issued a fraud alert informing consumers that they never employ telemarketers or perform cold calls.
We’ve written about senior scams before, primarily the ever-popular summer Grandparent Scams and holiday scams. Seniors are especially susceptible to frauds because the scammers count on the elderly to be especially fearful, trusting and sympathetic.
The BBB offers these tips when dealing with unsolicited calls:
- Never provide personal information to an unknown caller.
- Never respond to a robocall from an unknown company.
- Don’t press a key to talk to a human. Simply hang up.
In addition, the Better Business Bureau advises seniors and other consumers to look for the following “red flags”:
“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. Don’t fall for scare tactics.
Calls for Immediate Action – Listen for language like “this offer is good for today only!”
Implied Endorsement or Affiliation with Legitimate Entities – If a seller claims its product has been endorsed by another reputable organization, check directly with that organization for verification.
Refuses 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.
If you or someone you love has fallen victim to this or any other scam, report it to your bank or credit card company, file a report with the Better Business Bureau and submit a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Also, share any information with the Caregiverlist caregiver community here in the comments.