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AG Kilmartin Warns Consumers of Medical Alert Services Scam

After receiving several calls from consumers complaining about unsolicited telephone calls offering free medical alert services, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is warning consumers to not be fooled by this scam.

In some situations, consumers receive a recorded message that tells them a family member has ordered a medical alert system but more information is required before the product can be shipped while in other instances consumers receive a phone message that states the company wants to deliver the product but needs to confirm an address. In each instance, it is a scam to get personal identifying information from the consumer, including credit card numbers, bank account information or Medicare card numbers.

"While medical alert systems do save lives, this scam does nothing more than harm unsuspecting consumers, especially seniors," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "It is a constant battle to stay one step ahead of the scam artists, which often operate outside the United States and outside the reach of law enforcement. Consumer education is the best defense we have against these types of scams."

Rhode Island consumers are not the lone target of this latest scam; attorneys general from across the country are reporting similar scams in their states as well.

Attorney General Kilmartin offers these tips with respect to calls offering free medical alert services or calls looking for payment information on medical alert systems you did not purchase:

o When in doubt, don't give it out. If you are not sure who you're dealing with, don't give out any personal information. Regardless of what they say, no legitimate organization, including Medicare, will call to ask for your bank account number or Social Security number.

o Just hang up. The longer you spend on the line with a phony operator, the more likely it is you will get another scam call. Be cautious of cold-calls that claim "no strings attached."

o Beware of "free" offers. Remember, callers offer free trials to get you to purchase some good or service down the road. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

o Don't rely on caller ID. Some seniors report that their caller ID system indicated a local number when they received one of these scam calls. Remember, criminals often scramble the number appearing on your caller ID with "spoofing" technology that tricks your caller ID system into displaying a fake number.

o Report suspicious activity. Check out an unknown company before you sign up, especially if they do business over the phone. If a caller seems suspicious, hang up and report the matter to the Attorney General's Office.

o Get it in writing. Before agreeing to a purchase, ask for the information in writing. A legitimate business will provide you with detailed contact information in writing such as a physical address and phone number, as well as details about the item, services being offered, and costs.

If you believe you are a victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Department of Rhode Island Attorney General at (401) 274-4400. You can download a consumer complaint by visiting our website at www.riag.ri.gov, or email at contactus@riag.ri.gov.

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