There was recently an article in the AARP Bulletin on that had to do with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) cracking down on new scams. This made us think we should do a blog update on scams and pass out some new warnings from the FTC.
What‚Äôs new? Well, it seems scammers are now impersonating medical alert companies in order to get money or personal information (to steal your identity) from seniors. The scams are coming in the form of phone calls, sometimes with a live person and sometimes an automated or robocall. The calls are either trying to sell you a system, often using very strong tactics to get you to give your credit card or other payment information or they are stating that you (or someone you know) have already ordered the system and demanding payment. They have even been known to threaten legal action if you don‚Äôt pay up.
What you should know. Robocalls are illegal. But you may be asking, what is a Robocall? Well, direct from the FTC, here is an explanation of a robocall:
If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s a robocall. You’ve probably gotten robocalls about candidates running for office, or charities asking for donations. These robocalls are allowed. But if the recording is a sales message and you haven’t given your written permission to get calls from the company on the other end, the call is illegal. In addition to the phone calls being illegal, their pitch most likely is a scam.
So, what should you do if you get a robocall? The FTC recommends that you, hang up the phone. They also say you shouldn‚Äôt press 1 to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
What else can you do?
‚Ä¢ Consider contacting your phone provider and asking them to block the number, ask about whether they charge for that service. Remember that telemarketers change Caller ID information easily and often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will change.
‚Ä¢ Report your experience to the FTC online at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0341-file-complaint-ftc or by calling 1-888-382-1222.
Some other helpful tips:
If you get an unsolicited call, hang up. Don‚Äôt even ask for details from someone making a cold call.
If you are interested in a medical alert product, gather the information and ask for documentation of fees up front.
Beware of offers that state your insurance will cover medical alert programs or that you can get them for free. Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance companies will not pay for this service.
Don‚Äôt pay for anything that you didn‚Äôt order. Hang up and contact authorities to make a complaint if you are threatened.
And again, don‚Äôt press any numbers as prompted in the robocall, this could just notify them that this is a live, working phone number and you could become the target of future calls or scams.
For more information from the Federal Trade Commission visit: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0259-robocalls