Chicago, IL – July 23, 2013 - Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) is warning consumers of automated calls promising them a free medical alert system. The system is supposed to help protect seniors in the event of medical emergencies or break-ins.
BBB has received numerous phone calls and comments from concerned seniors in recent weeks who say they received a call – in these cases automated “robo-calls” – from a company identifying itself as “Emergency Medical Alert Systems,” “Senior Safety Alert,” “Senior Emergency Care,” “Senior Safe Alert,” or something similar.
The automated message says that “someone has ordered a free medical alert system for you, and this call is to confirm shipping instructions.” The message then instructs the listener to press a button to speak to a customer service representative for verification purposes, where the “representative” asks for the listener’s credit card and personal information.
“These automated dialing systems can place tens of thousands of calls a day and the calls appear to target the elderly and disabled” said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “The calls also claim to be from various well-known medical alert service providers, but the providers say the calls are not originating from them.”
BBB shares some tips on how consumers can avoid being a victim:
· Hang up the phone! Do not press any buttons. Don’t even speak!
· If you answer and a live person is on the line, ask for the company’s physical address. A legitimate company will not refuse to give this information to its potential customers. If the representative refuses to give out a physical address for the company or other identifying information, it is most likely a scam.
· If you are interested ask for something to be sent in writing.
· Don’t respond to offers to “opt out” of future calls. That alerts the caller that this is a working number.
· Don’t pay for anything you receive and didn’t order even if legal action is threatened. According to the Federal Trade Commission you have a legal right to keep it as a “free gift”.
· Never give your bank or credit card information, or your social security number to anyone over the telephone.
BBB recommends that if you are listed on the Federal Do Not Call Registry that you file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov
As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.