Medical Alert Scams

According to an article from USA Today, seniors in Michigan, New York, Texas, Wisconsin and Kentucky have reported a new scam involving phone calls claiming victims have been signed up for a medical alert system.

While I haven’t heard of it hitting Indiana or Illinois yet, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before it does. This type of scam rarely confines itself to a few locations.

Many of the calls tell potential victims that a family member or doctor has signed them up for the system, which is likely a sham to begin with. Seniors who fall for the pitch end up being charged monthly fees and risk putting banking and nonpublic personal information into the hands of potential identity thieves.

If you or someone you know gets one of these calls, the best response is to simply hang up, and do not press any buttons to speak to a “live agent” or anyone else. The callers are not affiliated with any doctor, healthcare provider, insurance company, Medicare, or any other entity. They are simply a rogue company attempting to trick you into paying money for a useless service. You do not have to accept delivery of any devices.

While you’re taking a minute to warn others of this scam, make sure you and your family members are signed up for the National Do Not Call Registry. It’s free, it only takes a minute, and it serves as an instant litmus test; if you’re on the registry and a company with whom you have no existing relationship is calling you, you already know they’re willing to break federal regulations to sell you something. That doesn’t say much for their whole business model, does it?

Make 2013 the year you take action against scams that target seniors

I know, you already made your New Year resolutions several weeks ago.

But I also know that you’re probably already using the treadmill as a clothes rack again, too, so it’s time to make some more.

This year, I am challenging you to take action against scams and identity theft that target older people.

Every year, seniors lose millions to scams that target them because crooks make certain assumptions:

  1. They’re wealthy
  2. They’re gullible
  3. They live alone
  4. They won’t tell anyone

And all too often, seniors who are victims of scams don’t tell their families, out of fear or shame. Too often, they do live without regular contact from their loved ones. That’s why it’s important to join in the fight against fraud.

Maybe it’s your parents or grandparents, aunts or uncles. Maybe it’s just a neighbor. Whoever you know, whoever you care about, talk to them. Tell them about the scams that target seniors—utility scams, the grandchild-in-jeopardy scam, the 419 scams, the phony investments (Iraqi Dinars), the fake sweepstakes calls, the work-at-home cons. You can find out more about these on this very site, and all over the Internet.

Visit more often this year. Have dinner together. Talk to them about life in general. Did they mention phone calls or letters that sound suspicious? You don’t have to pry or cajole—you don’t need to know every detail of their bank account, or try to convince them to add you as an authorized signer in most cases. But you need to talk more, be together more.

It’s important for other reasons, too, you know.

Can we all do that this year?