Seniors and families, be on the lookout: US Today (May 2, 2015) reports that scammers are suckering growing numbers of seniors into buying medical alert systems they never ordered or never wanted. Unsolicited callers tell the victim that the device has already been ordered by a relative and must be paid for. In other instances the victim is told the device is free, but is subsequently billed. Or the caller may say the cost is small - $20, say - but the caller never tells the victim that that is the monthly charge.
Older people living alone at home are obviously the most vulnerable. Even when they discover they've been defrauded, victims may not tell anyone about it because they don't want their loved ones to think they are "losing it."
The Federal Trade Commission has caught one particularly egregious scam operating out of Brooklyn. Instant Response Systems, Inc. shipped medical alert devices to consumers without their consent. Then a letter came requesting payment. If the consumer did not pay, he/she was harassed. The company also placed calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. The company is now required to pay back $3.4 million it garnered in "unjust gains."
Be very careful about who you talk with on the phone and skeptical about anything you receive in the mail! Better safe than sorry. You can also report suspected scams and fraud to the Federal Trade Commission by clicking here or calling 877-382-4357.