By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller
Seniors are receiving “robo-calls” from a company identifying themselves as “Emergency Medical Alert Systems” offering a free medical alert system. Last month, Idaho Falls residents were blasted with the calls, and this past week BBB has taken hundreds of inquiries.
“I’m getting calls two to three times a day from these people,” she says. “I’ve already told them I’m not interested, but they just keep calling me saying a friend or someone I know has recommended I receive the medical alert system. And, it’s free. Hah!”
The sales person claims everything has been paid for including shipping and handling and that the call is simply to confirm shipping instructions. But, those who have taken the call explain the caller then asks for checking account information to pay for shipping fees. Others say once the delivery is made they are told there is a monthly maintenance fee.
Snake River Region residents are also told they were recommended for the product by a family friend or relative. After consumers press a button to accept the offer, they quickly receive another call asking for personal information including credit card numbers.
Residents report several different options with these phone calls.
In some instances the pre-recorded voice asks the consumer to press 1 to accept, in other cases to press 5. Consumers in other parts of the country report calls from customer service representatives that give the same offer, but hang-up the phone when questioned on its validity. No matter what option is offered, residents are advised to hang-up the telephone.
“A reputable marketing company will never contact you using these pre-recording messages,” said Dale Dixon, president and CEO of BBB serving the Snake River Region. “Never, ever, give out your personal information over the phone to an unknown party. Just hang up the phone.”
This company may claim to be associated with the American Heart Association or American Senior Benefits, but is not connected to these two legitimate organizations in any way. Some BBBs report residents have accepted the free monitoring system only to find out later they’ve been registered into a service with fees up to $400 a year.
Some BBB Tips:
- Be wary of anyone offering you something for “free” in exchange for your personal information. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Do not give your bank account information, Medicare number, social security number or any other personal information to unknown people over the phone.
- Check out the company’s BBB Business Review at bbb.org to see its BBB rating, complaint history and more.
If you decide you want to take part in a service, there are plenty of questions to ask. Federal Trade Commission offers pointers here.