Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Don't Be Misled by Medical Alert Sales Pitch

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Don't Be Misled by Medical Alert Sales Pitch

Article excerpt

The cheerful voice on the phone says you can protect yourself and your loved ones with an emergency medical alert.

Best of all, someone had already paid for it, so it's "entirely free" for you, the phone message said. Even shipping is free. Just press "1" and it will be on its way.

How can you resist?

Consumers across the nation -- mostly elderly and disabled individuals -- have received unsolicited robocalls in recent days, and as the Better Business Bureau in Omaha, Neb., said in an alert issued last week: Buyer beware!

"In the last few weeks, BBB has received numerous phone calls from residents reporting they received phone calls, supposedly from federal agencies, medic alert businesses or medical supply companies working with the government," the bureau said.

The caller may claim that the device has already been ordered and the company is asking to schedule an appointment for delivery or installation. Also, while the device is free, you'll get hit with is a dollar-a-day service fee.

That's just part of it, the BBB said. Callers are also asking for personal information such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, credit card or bank account numbers, supposedly to provide free services such as medic alert alarms, back braces and other products that assist the elderly and infirm and are paid for by Medicare and Medicaid.

"Be very suspicious due to the secretive nature and lack of full disclosure to their real purpose," Omaha BBB President Jim Hegarty said.

Maryland's attorney general issued a similar warning.

"If you haven't ordered such a device, hang up immediately and avoid this rip-off," Douglas F. Gansler said. "Never give out your personal financial information to any person or company that calls you on the phone unsolicited. Once again, if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs hasn't received any complaints yet, but that doesn't mean local residents haven't gotten the "free" offer. …

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