Scams involving medical services have been a staple of scam artists since the earliest days of time and seniors are frequently targets of scams so when you put the two together, you have the perfect storm for scams. Although there are many companies that offer medical alert systems for seniors, there are many scammers that sell these services to unwary seniors. So how do you tell the sales pitch for a scam medical alert company from the sales pitch for a legitimate medical alert company? One way to tell is if the sales pitch comes via an illegal prerecorded robocall. Since commercial robocalls are illegal, obviously a company selling you their services through this type of call has little regard for the law and you should have little regard for that company. Six years ago I told you about one such company, Lifewatch which in 2015 was sued by both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Attorney General of Florida who alleged that the company violated the law not only through illegal robocalls, but also by alleging that the medical alert system they offered was free and already been paid for by a friend or family member when that was untrue. They also were accused of misrepresenting that their product has been endorsed by AARP, which it was not. Finally, they were accused of telling prospective customers that they would not be charged anything (in regard to the product that they already had been told had been prepaid) until they activated the device. The truth, according to the FTC, is that Lifewatch charged people immediately.
Now six years later, the lawsuit has been settled with Lifewatch providing 1.8 million dollars to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which is returning the funds to victims of the scam. The checks being sent by the FTC must be cashed within 90 days of the date of the check. For more specific information about these refunds go the “FTC Scam Refunds” tab in the middle of the initial page of Scamicide.com.
Since commercial robocalls are illegal, if a product is being pitched to you in a robocall, you can’t trust the company so why should you buy the product? As for medical alert services, if you are considering buying one, you should first check with your physician and then check out the company with the FTC, the Better Business Bureau, your state attorney general and even by just putting the name of the company into a Google search with the word “scam” and see what come up.
Last year the FTC refunded more than 483 million dollars to scam victims, however the U.S. Supreme Court unfortunately ruled this year that the FTC does not have the authority to make such refunds from money collected by the FTC from scammers. The FTC has asked Congress to restore the FTC’s ability to get money from scammers and return it to scam victims. Fortunately, there is pending legislation, H.R. 2668 which would return that authority to the FTC. I urge you to contact your representatives in Congress and the Senate and tell them to vote in favor of this legislation. Here is a link you can use to contact your representative in Congress. https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative And here is a link you can use to contact your senator. https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm
For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.” Scamicide was cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.
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