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June 26, 2013

Consumer Alert: Medical Alert Scam Targets Older Iowans

(DES MOINES, Iowa)  Automated calls promising free medical alert systems to protect people from medical emergencies or break-ins are targeting older Iowans.

Consumers who have contacted the Consumer Protection Division report that the automated calls claim that a family member ordered or even paid for a free medical alert system on the recipients’ behalf, and the calls instruct recipients to press a button to speak with a customer service representative.  Recipients who follow through may be connected to someone who seeks personal information.  Consumers in several states have reported being asked for information including a credit card number, bank account number or, in some cases, a Social Security number.

“At best, those behind the calls appear to be using highly unethical, high-pressure sales pitches to target older people.  At worst, these calls may be nothing more than outright scams designed to tap into someone’s bank or credit card account,” Attorney General Tom Miller said.  “They’re preying on older Iowans, and I urge anyone who takes a call like this to hang up.”  Miller also urged family members or caretakers of older Iowans to make sure they are aware of the scam and know that they should hang up the phone.

Telemarketing Fraud Tips

  • Hang up on robo-calls that claim you are to receive a free medical alert system.  Don’t speak, and don’t press any buttons.
  • When an unsolicited caller asks for personal or financial information, do not provide them with credit card, debit card or bank information, or your Social Security number.
  • Do not wire money.
  • If the call seems suspicious, involves a high-pressure sales pitch, or the person seeks personal information, hang up.  When in doubt, don’t give it out!
  • Callers can “spoof” caller ID, which means they can mask their true number and location.
  • Beware of “free” offers—they may tie you in to future charges for goods or services.
  • If you are not sure whether the call is legitimate, ask for the company’s contact information, including a physical address and phone number.  Request written information.  A legitimate company won’t refuse this request.


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