Phoenix, AZ (Thursday, August 1, 2013) – Attorney General Tom Horne is warning people, especially senior citizens, about an increase in medical alert scams. Across the country, seniors have been reporting phone calls that offer “free” medical alert systems.
Here’s how it works: Scammers scare seniors by convincing them to disclose their private information and then use it to commit identity theft or drain bank accounts. In some situations, consumers receive a recorded message telling them a family member has ordered a medical alert system but more information is required before the product can be shipped. In other instances, consumers receive a phone message that states the company wants to deliver the product but needs to confirm an address. In each instance, it is a scam to get personal identifying information from the consumer, including credit card numbers, bank account information or Medicare card numbers.
"While medical alert systems do save lives, this scam does nothing more than harm unsuspecting consumers, especially seniors," said Attorney General Tom Horne. "It is a constant battle to stay one step ahead of these schemes, especially when scam artists often operate outside the country, out of reach of law enforcement. Consumer education is the best defense we have against these types of scams."
Arizona consumers are not the only target of this latest scam; attorneys general from across the country are reporting similar scams in their states as well.
Attorney General Horne offers these tips with respect to calls offering free medical alert services or calls looking for payment information on medical alert systems you did not purchase:
- When in doubt, don't give personal information out. Regardless of what they say, no legitimate organization, including Medicare, will call to ask for your bank account number or Social Security number.
- Keep your financial information to yourself. Do not give out credit card, checking or savings account information to anyone who calls you, as it is not difficult for someone with this data to draft money from your account.
- Don't rely on caller ID. Some seniors report that their caller ID system indicated a local number when they received one of these scam calls. Remember, criminals often scramble the number appearing on your caller ID with "spoofing" technology that tricks your caller ID system into displaying a fake number.
- Report suspicious activity. Check out an unknown company before you sign up, especially if they do business over the phone. If a caller seems suspicious, hang up and report the matter to the Attorney General's Office.
- Ask the sales agent to send you information about their product or services. Legitimate companies are often happy to mail you a pamphlet or brochure about what they sell.
- Place your name on the Do Not Call List – you can do this by visiting the National Do Not Call Registry.
- Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
For more information, or if you believe you have been a victim of fraud, please contact the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix, at (602) 542-5763; Tucson at (520) 628-6504; or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at (800) 352-8431. Consumers can also file complaints online by visiting the Attorney General’s Website at www.azag.gov.