Millions of Americans subscribe to "Life Alert," the service that calls police if you fall in your home and can't get to a phone for help.
But, a new scam is targeting older adults everywhere, preying on the familiarity of those popular TV commercials. So, how can you tell if it’s the real Life Alert calling or, if it’s a scam?
Calls Come All Hours of the Day
Carol Gibbs says one of the worst things about getting older is that questionable people start calling day and night. They even leave messages on her answering machine, telling her she has qualified for a medical alert system.
"It's the "I've fallen and can't get up" system you've seen on TV...." one message on her machine said.
Carol has recently received more than a dozen robocalls offering free alert systems.
The voice on another message says "It's already been paid for, so there's no cost to you whatever...."
But, what raised the red flag for her was when the robot voice said it was "like" the famous Life Alert of TV ad fame – not the actual Life Alert, which is a patented brand name.
"The thing that struck me was that it was ‘like’ the Life Alert system being show on TV, which was very unprofessional,” she said.
Did Someone Really Buy it For You?
Then, Carol says she caught another lie: They told her a concerned family member bought her the system, and all she had to do was say yes.
"Now it’s that it has been paid for, the shipping has been paid for, and someone is worried about me, cause someone close to me has fallen,” she said, “none of which is true."
Carol’s not the only one. I’ve gotten emails from people in Sun City, Mesa and Tempe all saying they’ve gotten these calls.
Duane and Suzie wrote to say they tried to call the number back and all they got was a message saying “all circuits are busy.”
Kay wrote to say they told her that her alert system was ready and paid for, even though she said she had never talked to anyone about getting one.
BBB and AG’s Take Action
The Better Business Bureau and several states’ Attorneys General are calling this a scam.
They say the real Life Alert company has nothing to do with it. But, the scams, they say, are tarnishing Life Alert's name.
Rather, the AG's say these are sound-alike scam artists who want your bank or credit card number, to start billing you as much as $100 a month.
So, Carol wants to get the word out. "My fear is that someone is going to fall for it, and it will be one of those situations where someone takes money and they will continue to take money,” she said. “People are very vulnerable when they're elderly."
Life Alert will never call you to offer you a free system.
I’ve heard from a lot of you about getting calls for a pre-paid medical alert system. None of them say they can get a hold of anyone when they call the number back, and none of them say they prepaid for anything.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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