Senior Emergency Care: Phone Scam Overview
Seniors are targeted by scam artists more than any other demographic in the United States. According to the FBI, seniors lose more than $3 billion each year due to scams and elder fraud.
Aging adults need to be aware of scams, like the grandparents phone scam and Medicare phone scams, in order to protect themselves from fraud. Another common scam that targets the elderly is the senior emergency care phone scam.
How Does the Senior Emergency Care Phone Scam Work?
The senior emergency care scam can also be referred to as the medical alert phone scam. As people age it's often a good idea to have an emergency support system that they can wear while in their home in case they have a fall, heart attack or other emergency. Scammers know that many seniors have difficulty affording these systems, for this reason they place automated calls offering free emergency care systems and wait for victims to call back.
There are several ways in which this scam can vary, however, the general approach is always the same. The automated call that the scammer places will inform their victim that they're eligible for a significant discount or a free alert system. The caller will state that you can receive the system for free, but there will still be a standard monthly service fee that needs to be paid up-front. The scammer states that this fee will be minimal and the safety and peace of mind that this will bring is invaluable. They will then request payment by wire transfer or prepaid debit cards of the service fees.
In another variation the caller will state that your Medicare will cover the cost of the system. The caller will then ask for sensitive personal information like birth date, Medicare ID number, and Social Security number. With this information the scammer is able to commit Medicare fraud and steal your identity.
How Can Seniors Protect Themselves From This Scam?
Senior emergency care scams may sound real, but the following red flags can help you identify them.
The caller tries to scare you.
The caller may describe a very gruesome, hypothetical scenario where you'll die without an emergency response system.
Reluctance to give company information.
A scammer will usually refuse to give the company's information. If a company is legitimate, they should willingly give their information when requested.
The caller requests sensitive, personal information.
Never give sensitive information to a cold caller. If a caller requests payment, Medicare, or Social Security information immediately hang up.
Promises of anything for free.
Medical device companies don't give away their systems for free. The devices themselves can be over $100 dollars and then there is monthly service fees involved as well. If you or a family member requires a medical alert system it's best to research the different options that exist on the market.
How Do You Report This Scam?
Whenever you get an automated call offering you a free medical alert system you should report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In addition, you can help warn others by leaving your feedback on scamming phone numbers using our iPhone caller ID app. If you don't have an iPhone, you can still run a reverse phone lookup and leave your feedback on suspicious numbers here on our website.