Update: Recent Changes to the Medical Alert Scam

The medical alert scam has been around for at least a year now, and recently the scammers have changed their tactics. Some robocalls now promise that you’re entitled to $3,000 in money-saving coupons (as in the “freebie scam”). Others falsely claim that the free-device offer is being made on behalf of AARP as a way of claiming legitimacy. Don’t be fooled! It’s the same old scam that tries to get your credit card or bank account information for supposed monitoring fees for the “free” device that never arrives.  Provide that info and you risk identity theft.

 

HOW THE SCAM WORKS

Recipients of these calls report several different phone numbers on their caller ID, so remember that you can’t trust it anymore because the scammers can easily spoof a phone number. The calls urge recipients to press 1 to get their free device by providing their address and credit card, or press 5 to opt out from future calls and “alert your health care provider that you have refused the offer.” DON’T DO EITHER!! Pressing 1 puts you through to a live operator – and a hard sell with more scare tactics to get you to reveal your financial and personal information. Pressing 5 tells these crooks you have a working phone number that’s a set-up for future nuisance calls. There’s no indication that anyone has ever received a free system as promised, and after providing financial account information, people report getting billed for bogus monitoring services — and even threatened with lawsuits if they didn’t pay. This is intimidation and fear, two classic “dead giveaways for a scam.”

 

WHAT TO DO

1. Hang up without pressing any key.

2.Never provide any personal information, including your name, address and birthdate. Never give out account or Medicare/Social Security numbers.

3.Recognize that displayed numbers are likely fake but still report them to ftc.gov/complaint or 1-888-382-1222.

4. Contact your phone-service provider to block robocall numbers. Don’t pay for this protection, though, because caller ID-displayed numbers are often changed.

Remember, if you’ve been scammed, notify local law enforcement and your Attorney General.

(Thanks to the BBB for the information I used in this update.)

 

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