|Medic alert device scam becoming more prevalent|
|Saturday, August 10, 2013 12:58 AM|
VAN WERT — Several people in Van Wert County have received unsolicited phone calls recently offering “free” medical alert devices. According to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, more than 200 Ohioans have reported such phone calls to his office so far this year — around 40 percent were reported last month alone.
In a release, DeWine stated that those responding to the calls risk losing money or jeopardizing personal information.
“These calls have been circulating throughout the country and we’re seeing more Ohioans filing complaints,” DeWine said. “The most important thing to remember is not to respond to suspicious calls in any way. Don’t give out your credit card number or bank account information and don’t press any buttons. Just hang up.”
Typically, the call is a prerecorded message saying the consumer is eligible for a free medical alert system or that someone bought an alert device for the consumer. The message may ask the consumer to “press one” to schedule the delivery or press another button to decline. Consumers who respond to the calls may be connected to a live representative who likely will ask for a bank account number, credit card number, or other personal information. Later, consumers may receive charges for the “free” system.
Another unsolicited call going around is a Medicare card scam in which callers claim to represent Medicare and say the consumer needs a new Medicare card. The caller asks for the consumer’s bank account information or Social Security number to process and fulfill the new card. In reality, the caller does not represent Medicare.
“Scammers often try to take advantage of what’s in the news, and with the upcoming health care changes involving the Affordable Care Act, these kinds of scams may become more common,” DeWine said.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office offers several tips so that consumers can protect themselves. First, never give out personal information over the phone. Don’t respond to suspicious calls. Even if the caller says you can press a button to opt out, don’t follow the instructions. By pressing a button, you indicate that you have an active phone number, which may lead to more calls.
If you do receive a suspicious call, do not trust your caller ID. Scammers often “spoof” the number that appears on your caller ID so that a call appearing to be from a local area code phone number may be coming from another state or another country.
Be careful any time someone offers you something for “free” but requests personal information. Once they get your credit card number or bank account information, they could charge you. If you get a call with a recorded sales message and you haven’t given the company your written permission to call, the call is in violation of Do Not Call laws and the offer is likely a scam. If you gave information to one of these callers, check your account statements. If you find unexpected charges, ask your bank or credit card company to remove them.
To report a scam or for help with unsolicited calls, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at (800) 282-0515 or online at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.