Nationwide telemarketing scam targeting seniors

Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 11:47am

Senior citizens nationwide are reporting pushy, suspicious telemarketing calls from businesses going by the names "Senior Emergency Care," "Senior Safety Alert" or "Senior Safe Alert."

According to reports, these businesses are using prerecorded telemarketing calls to pitch a personal emergency alarm system. The recording claims the alarm will protect against dangers such as break-ins and medical emergencies. The recording further claims that the system — worth several hundred dollars — can be installed for free, but will cost $30 a month thereafter.

After the pitch, callers are prompted to press a button to speak with a live person for “verification” purposes. However, victims report that staff refuses to provide basic business information, such as the business address.

If you answer the phone and are greeted by an automated message instead of a live person, that is considered a robocall. Furthermore, according to the Federal Trade Commission, “if the recording is a sales message, and you haven’t given your written permission to get calls from the company, the call is illegal.”

Red flags of a telemarketing scam include:

  • The caller or automated message tries to create a sense of panic. In this case, the call alarms seniors by describing a situation where they are incapacitated at home and cannot call for help. Also watch out for calls that push for immediate action.
  • Promises of something for free. Be wary of "free" offers that ask you to pay a handling fee or other charges.
  • Implies an endorsement from a well-known organization. In this case, the call claims the alarm system is endorsed by the American Heart Association and the "American Diabetic Association," which is really the "American Diabetes Association."
  • Spoken errors. Just as phishing emails often contain misspellings and grammar errors, scam calls can have similar errors, such as referring to the American Diabetes Association as the "American Diabetic Association."
  • No legitimate contact information. Any legitimate business should be able to provide you with detailed contact information, such as an address or website.

Additionally, if you receive a call similar to this:

  • Hang up right away,
  • Do not push any button(s) to proceed further,
  • Consider blocking the number and add your number to the Do Not Call Registry,
  • Report the call to your Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org or to the FTC at www.donotcall.gov.

 

To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.

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