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Protect Yourself From Medical Alert Scams

Most people have seen TV ads for a device that sends help when a person has fallen and can’t get up. Legitimate medical alert devices have been lifesavers for some, but a new telephone scam preys on the worry for people who live alone and fear they won’t be able to call for help if they are injured or sick.

Across the country, senior citizens report receiving phone calls that offer “free” medical alert systems. But these systems are not free. Scammers scare and defraud seniors by convincing them to disclose their private information and then use this information to commit identity theft or drain bank accounts.

How does the scam work?

These scam calls can take on many forms. Often, the callers claim they are with Medicare or a familiar medical provider, or tell you that your “free” medical alert system is ready for pickup if you “press one.” Once you press a button, however, you will begin to receive more unwanted calls and requests to convince you to disclose your personal information.

In some cases, the caller may try to gain your confidence by claiming that an anonymous person or a family member has paid for the alert system and that you must provide your information for delivery or setup. People who continue on this path are then asked for more personal information, such as a credit card number or Social Security number.

Once you provide private information, the unknown entity may begin charging you for an unwanted or undelivered service. Scam callers who obtain private banking or Social Security information over the phone may use it to steal money.

How can I protect myself?

Criminal outfits have no regard for the law. Here are a few steps you can take to prevent fraud:

Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson
1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 296-3353
TTY: (651) 297-7206
TTY: 1-800-366-4812

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