With more than 15 percent increase in the population of the elderly, medical alert systems have gained immense popularity in the last decade. They help seniors live alone in the comfort of their home without worrying about falls and medical emergencies. Most medical alert systems consist of a base station that is connected to your phone or mobile modem. Many providers also offer a detachable help button that works within a specific range of distance. In case of an emergency, you can press the help button and connect to the monitoring center automatically. A monitoring agent will immediately contact emergency services and ensure you receive the help you require. The providers charge a monthly fee for the service. Some of them may also charge an activation or cancellation fee.
There are several medical alert systems in the market today. While most companies are reliable and safe, others have victimized innocent seniors and duped them of hundreds of dollars. Here are some common medical alert scams that have impacted millions of seniors in recent times.
- Identity Theft – Many seniors have received a recorded voice that requests them to press ‘1’ for more information about a medical alert system. A fake service representative immediately gets online and asks for your credit card information and uses it for identity theft. Many callers use the names of reputable companies and products.
- Wrong order – Close to 66,000 consumers across United States were victimized by this scam earlier this year. A robotic call states that your friend or family member has ordered a medical alert system for you and requests you to press ‘1’. A service representative talks to you immediately and takes your credit card information. The company begins charging a monthly fee without your permission. You do not receive the equipment as well. Some companies also threaten the consumers and warn them of legal action if they do not accept the offer. A company recently duped seniors of $13 million with such a scam.
- Equipment and service – Many providers promise quality equipment and service during enrollment. You may, however, be in for a surprise. The product that you actually receive may breakdown and the company may charge you a fee for repairing or replacing it. The monitoring center may not work 24/7. It may not have a backup facility and you may not receive the service when you actually need it.
- Costs and contracts – Consumers should also read the fine print carefully. The company may promise low monthly fee and change the amount after a few months without informing you. They may also change the cancellation policy after a few months.
You can take several steps to avoid such medical alert system scams. Always remember that there are “no free lunches in this world.” Be wary of the word “free.” Learn more about the company before taking the offer. Do not give your personal information over the phone. Screen your calls and check the caller ID before answering the call. When in doubt, hang up.
If you are looking to invest in a medical alert system, read reviews on non-partisan websites. Talk to friends and family members as well and consider their recommendations before making the purchase. A good system can make a difference. However, unwanted scams can lead to several complications.