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Medical alert scam hits Central and Northern Virginia

5/16/2013, 10:42 a.m.

Better Business Bureau Serving Central Virginia warns of a telemarketing scam reported by seniors in the Richmond, Fredericksburg, King William and Alexandria areas over the past two days. Other BBBs in the Shenandoah Valley and in other states are also receiving these complaints.

In most cases seniors are receiving “robo-calls” from a company identifying itself as “Medical Alert Systems” or “Senior Medical Labs” offering a free medical alert system. They claim everything is paid for including shipping and handling. Consumers are also told they have been recommended for the product by a family friend or relative. After consumers press a button to accept the offer, they quickly receive another call asking for personal information including credit card numbers.

Consumers have reported several different options with these phone calls. In some instances the pre-recorded voice asks the consumer to press 1 to accept, in other cases to press 5. Consumers have also reported receiving calls from customer service representatives who give the same offer, but hang-up the phone when questioned on its validity. When asked for a reason for the call, one consumer was told that someone in her family or the consumer themself had experienced a fall. No matter what option or explanation is offered, consumers are being advised to simply hang-up the telephone.

“Never, ever, give out your personal information over the phone to an unknown party,” said Tom Gallagher, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central Virginia. “Be sure your telephone number is listed on the Do Not Call Registry.”

Some BBB Tips:

• Be wary of anyone offering you something for “free” in exchange for your personal information. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

• Do not provide your bank account information, Medicare number, social security number or any other personal information to unknown individuals over the phone.

• Check out the company's BBB Business Review at bbb.org to see its BBB rating, complaint history and more.

• Consumer and business scams should quickly be reported to BBB at 804-648-0016 or through its website at www.richmond.bbb.org.

BBB Serving Central Virginia serves Richmond and Tri-Cities, Charlottesville and Fredericksburg, as well as 42 surrounding counties, from Fauquier to Mecklenburg and Northumberland to Amherst. The nonprofit organization was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest and ethical business practices and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business. Core services of the BBB include business reliability reports, dispute resolution, truth-in advertising, consumer and business education and charity review.