New York Warns Of Medical-Alert Device Robocalling Scam Targeting Seniors

Most of you know to be suspicious when someone calls out of the blue to tell you you’ve been approved to get something for free. But not everyone is as savvy as y’all, which is what scammers depend on to make their money.

Apparently, some scammy jerks have been placing illegal robocalls to senior citizens to let them know they’ve been approved to receive medical-alert devices “at no charge.”

According to New York state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman (the T stands for “tough,” or maybe Thomas or Todd… we have no idea), the calls — coming from a business calling itself Senior Medical Alert or Senior Medical Advisors — use scare tactics, warning consumers of a “significant rise in the number of senior citizens suffering death and serious life-threatening injuries from a delay in response times for medical emergencies, fires, burglaries or even a simple fall.”

The goal is to get people to hand over their billing information so they can be charged $35/month for “monitoring services.”

Some say the scammers are making follow-up calls that are more aggressive than the original. We’re guessing they figure that they’ve already broken any number of laws already, so what’s the harm in a few more?

The AG’s office says these calls appear to be coming from within the state of New York, more precisely from the Syracuse or Utica area. During an undercover call by an investigator, the scammers gave a fake Orlando address as the location of their company’s headquarters. They also claimed to be affiliated with insurance biggie United Health, though we’re pretty sure that’s a big fat lie too.

“Unfortunately, the elderly are disproportionately targeted by scam artists and are often the victims of fraud and abuse,” said Schneiderman. “To prevent senior citizens from becoming victimized, we must educate them and their loved ones with information they can use to protect themselves.”

As always, some things to remember to avoid being scammed over the phone:

· Never give out billing or other personal information over the phone, especially if you receive an unsolicited telephone call from a stranger
· Never cash a check from an unknown source, especially if you are being asked to wire a portion of the proceeds to a stranger
· Never wire money to someone you don’t know who contacts you; it’s the same as handing over cash

You can — and should — file a complaint with the FTC and your state’s Attorney General when you come across a scam, whether you’ve been a victim or not.

Here is a link to the FTC’s complaint assistant, and here is a directory of contact information for each state’s Attorney General.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.