Wave of Telemarketing Scams Target Seniors

February 01, 2013
Seniors nationwide are reporting pushy, suspicious telemarketing calls from businesses going by the names Senior Emergency Care, Senior Safety Alert or Senior Safe Alert. Follow our advice to tell a legitimate sales call from a telemarketing scam.
How the Scam Works:
You receive a prerecorded telemarketing call pitching a personal emergency alarm system. The alarm, warns the recording, is necessary to protect against a long list of dangers, such as break-ins and medical emergencies. It claims that you can get an alarm system worth several hundred dollars installed for free. You are just responsible for a monthly charge of about $30.
The recording prompts you to press a button and speak to a live person for "verification." However, victims report that staff refuse to provide basic business information, such as the address.
The exact details of the scam vary. The alarm business goes by a variety of names, including Senior Emergency Care, Senior Safety Alert, American Senior Benefits Program, and Senior Safe Alert. Typically, the calls appear to come from an area code in the surrounding region, but these numbers can be misrepresented.
In some cases, the sales calls are pushy but legitimate. In others, the calls are phishing scams that impersonate real businesses and seek credit card numbers and personal information. Use the tips below to tell a scam from a sales pitch.

Many of those contacted by telemarketers are on the Do Not Call Registry. If this includes you, you can file a complaint here and with the FTC.
How to Spot a Telemarketing Scam: 
If a call does the following, it's probably a scam:  
  • Tries to create a sense of panic. In this case, the call alarms seniors by describing a situation where they are incapacitated at home and cannot call for help. Also watch out for calls that push for immediate action.
  • Promises something for free that really isn't. Be wary of "free" offers that ask you to pay a handling fee or other charges.
  • Implies an endorsement from a well-known organization. In this case,  the call claims the alarm system is endorsed by the American Heart Association and the American Diabetic Association, which is actually the American Diabetes Association. Others claim a good BBB rating, so be sure to check this on BBB.org.
  • The business doesn't have a physical address or website. Be wary if the only contact information is a P.O.Box or toll-free number.
Visit the FBI's website for more information about scams targeting seniors. 
To find out more about scams, check out the BBB Scam Stopper.