How Seniors Can Avoid Medical Alert Scams

scams seniors

It’s happened to everyone at some point. The phone rings and on the other end of the line is someone offering items or services you might have interest in. In some cases, especially if you are a senior, you may receive a phone call offering you a free senior life-saving alert system. You are then told that all you have to do is provide pertinent information to pay for shipping and handling, such as your credit card number or your bank account information.

Pretty simple and easy, right? And who doesn’t love something for free?

It might sound like it’s too good to be true. And it probably is.

While there ARE legitimate medical alert companies like Alert1 that DO offer free equipment to their members, there are fees charged for the 24/7 monitoring service. Round the clock protection with Alert1 is very affordable for seniors, but there are some costs involved for members. It’s affordable, yes. But free? No.

Scams that target the elderly are unfortunately quite common, and they can often lead to serious problems, not the least of which is a loss of financial security if the scammer manages to get bank account information from the senior they lead into their trap. These telephone scams can be quite convincing.

It’s a very common problem: Over 60 million Americans reported being scammed in 2021, according to Newsweek. Each person lost an average of $502 for a total of $29 billion hoodwinked away from bank accounts and credit cards.

It’s important to remember that legitimate medical alert companies like Alert1 are long-established (we’ve been in business for 30 years), have a company website, have reviews by members, and are recommended by respected organizations like AAA and AARP.

The Most Common Medical Alert Scam

The most common senior scam almost always happens by phone call, as many scammers don’t want anything in writing. If you speak to them, the odds are much better that you won’t keep a record of it.

When you answer that call, they might be quite polite and friendly. They’ll tell you they are calling from a company that sells medical alert technology. Or they might say they are calling from Medicare or another medical or insurance provider you are familiar with already.

Then they will tell you that you are eligible for a “free” medical alert pendant, watch, or other system. Or they might tell you that a close friend or family member has ordered a medical alarm system for you and will be paying the monthly fees. All you have to do is provide information for delivery and setup. Now, it is important to remember that Alert1 Medical Alert Systems is a legitimate company with an A+ rating by the BBB and does offer free medical alert equipment for elderly adults. However, there are affordable fees for the 24/7 monitoring service. Round the clock protection service would not be free.

If you are contacted by a scammer, the pressure begins. The scammer will try all sorts of tactics to get you to hand over more and more personal information, such as bank account numbers and social security numbers. If you hesitate, they will press harder, trying whatever tactic they can to convince you or guilt you into handing over the information. If you do, they will promise to send you something soon. They will quickly end the call and use your financial information to make charges you didn’t authorize.

Other Common Scams that Target Elderly Adults

In some cases, it might be an automated system that calls you. You may hear a recording that states that your personal emergency response system is ready to be shipped or ready for pickup, and ask you to “press one” if you are ready to proceed. When you do press that number, you might be transferred to a real person who will then try to get information out of you. But even if you aren’t transferred, they already have important information – they know you’re interested in what they claim to offer. That means that soon, you may start getting calls from scammers who want to take advantage of you.

Another common tactic takes aim at the high prices of groceries these days. A scammer might offer thousands of dollars in “free grocery savings certificates” in addition to a personal alarm button. Adding on something of significant value such as thousands of dollars in savings can make an offer seem much more attractive.

There is also a more indirect kind of scam, where unscrupulous individuals will create fraudulent medical alert watches, bracelets, and the like and market them for sale on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or other websites where you can get the item at a steep discount. This targets those who are trying to save money by purchasing the equipment for a medical alert wireless system at a cheaper price. When you get the items, they don’t work properly or they are entirely fake, without any working parts or the ability to connect to any monitoring system. This is why it’s so important to use only authorized equipment from a legitimate company like Alert Medical Alert Systems.

How to Protect Yourself from Medical Alert Scams

It’s been said again and again: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers might convince you of their legitimacy just long enough to get the financial information they want. Here’s how to avoid falling into their trap[1][2].

·         Hang up quickly. As soon as you get a cold-call and it starts to sound too good to be true, it’s time to hang up. The sooner you hang up, the less likely it will be that you get another scam call.

·         Listen to your gut. If you get the feeling that something is not right, trust your instincts.

·         Don’t trust your caller ID. When a fraudulent company calls, you might see a local number pop up on your caller ID. This is done by spoofing, or the use of technology to mimic a local number. The idea is that if it’s an “unknown” number or one from a distant area code, you are less likely to answer. Local numbers, however, get your attention.

·         Don’t give out information. Legitimate places will never ask for your social security number or banking information. This includes not only medical alarm companies but organizations such as Medicare, Medicaid, the IRS, and government agencies.

·         Look for the company online. Some scams happen via email or text. This gives you more time to truly investigate the claims. Look the company up on the internet to make sure it’s a real company.

·         Don’t let them berate you. An even more unfortunate problem with all sorts of scams is that the caller will sometimes use threatening tactics to get you to hand over the information they want. They might yell at you, say mean things, threaten you with legal action, and more. If this begins to happen, there is no doubt it’s a scam. Hang up on them!

·         Report the problem. The Federal Trade Commission needs to know about the scam so they can take steps to combat it. Write down the time and date of the call, the number that showed up on caller ID (if you have it), what the individuals said, and what company they claimed to be working for. Report all of this to the FTC.

Remember that when it comes to getting an emergency alert system, it usually works by you contacting the company for their services and products, not the other way around. Once you have made that initial call, it’s possible the emergency button alarm company could call you to touch base.

If you are paying for a monthly service from anyone but you’re not receiving the products or services you expected, you might have fallen victim to a scam.  Once you have already been a victim of a scam, you are more likely to be scammed again. That’s because the scammers share information about you with others who are looking to score from your bank account.

To help stop these calls, sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry. This will help stop some unwanted calls. However, scammers don’t often abide by the rules, so you might still get calls from bad individuals even if your name is on this list.

Finally, remember that when you work with a legitimate company like Alert1, you will always be treated with respect. When you reach out to us, your calls will be met with a friendly attitude and plenty of kindness. You will only pay what you have already agreed to pay and not a dime more. In other words, we’re a real company, run by compassionate people who have your best interests at heart.

If you’re curious about medical alert systems with fall detection, check out the Alert1 website to find out more. We’d love to work with you to provide the safety and security you need!