It appears that seniors are receiving phone calls that attempt to scare them into making personal safety device purchases with a credit card, and it feels like a scam. I received one yesterday on my mobile phone.
An urgent voice asks for a senior citizen noting that break-ins, robbers, medical emergencies or falls are scary and a free solution will make them safer. Moreover, the voice offers a solution that’s supported or endorsed by the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the National Institute on Aging — three well-known and reputable organizations. To learn how to protect myself from all of these terrible problems the voice asks me to hit a number on my phone.
Well I am not a senior — yet — but I know a fair amount about media literacy, and I’ve spent countless hours telling my parents, my husband’s parents, and various other family members and friends, to hang up when they receive these urgent telephone calls asking them to make a purchase. However … I didn’t hang up because I was too intrigued. I pressed number one.
Next a reassuring woman’s voice explains that the Senior Emergency Care company – with a AAA rating from the Better Business Bureau and endorsements from all of the above organizations — is offering me free equipment and free registration and shipping — equipment that will help me avoid or prevent scary life situations such as crime and health emergencies. The personal safety device that she is selling would, she told me, can be worn around my neck and will make me feel and be safer.
The woman continues the call by explaining how the devices helps by calling emergency responders in any of those worrisome situations, and if I am wearing it I will also receive a wellness check phone call once a day. While the equipment is free, she said, a monthly fee of 34.95 will pay the people who respond to the emergencies and make the wellness calls. She wanted me to buy my device right then and there and even put a little pressure on me to give her my credit card. I declined. I told the woman I would think about it and also talk with my parents, and I hung up.
Then I Googled Senior Emergency Care, the name she gave me when I asked about the company’s identity, I could not find it. But I did find this story about this phone pitch, Warning Over Personal Safety Systems Pitch, in the December 21, 2012 Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Journal Sentinel. So I also did a quick check of the Better Business Bureau, but could not find the company.
Sounds like a scam to me.
Personal safety devices are available through hospitals, through a variety of senior organization — in fact you can even purchase them at Costco. Make sure that your family and friends purchase personal safety devices are from a trusted source and not from a cold phone call.
Feel free to share my description with other people who might be interested. If you receive this call you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or your state fraud protection agencies.