Senior citizens across the United States and Canada are receiving recorded telephone messages offering personal emergency and medical alert services at little or no cost. These phone calls are illegal and fraudulent, warns Alan Wu, Marketing Manager of Bay Alarm Medical. Legitimate home medical alert system providers and trade associations are attempting to identify the source of the calls and stop the deceptive practice.
"Some of our customers have contacted us about the calls, because the sales techniques used seemed suspicious," says Wu. His company, Bay Alarm Medical is a leading provider of home medical alert monitoring. One customer said she was prompted to press a button to speak to a live sales representative. When she asked for more information about the service, the salesperson refused to answer questions until she agreed to provide personal information as part of a "qualification process."
"That's a huge red flag: anyone who receives a call like that should hang up immediately," Wu stresses. "No legitimate company would ever cold call potential customers and expect them to share personal information before explaining the product or service being offered."
Others in the home medical alert and alarm monitoring industry are also concerned about these calls. The Medical Alarm Monitoring Association (MAMA) is following the issue closely and recently posted an alert on its Web site. Noting its "longstanding record of working against deceptive business practices," the industry trade group's board will be meeting to discuss the issue.
Consumers should research companies carefully before purchasing a service: particularly if the service is sold through unsolicited phone calls. The National Do Not Call Registry, operated by the US Federal Trade Commission, allows consumers to opt-out of telemarketing calls to their home or cell phones. "Unscrupulous companies either ignore the registry or use spoofing techniques to hide their real phone numbers," explains Wu.
Bay Alarm Medical urges anyone who receives one of these calls to hang up immediately. "Never provide bank or credit card information if you didn't initiate the call. If you're an existing customer of a home medical alarm company and receive one of these calls, end the call and contact your provider with the details."