Friday, July 19 2013, 06:42 PM MDT
Imposters Using Iconic Commercial to Dupe Seniors
By Matt Gephardt
Produced by Michelle Poe
Edited by Ryan Malavolta
Photography by Dan Dixon
(KUTV) The Federal Trade Commission has now joined the fight against the person or persons accused of posing as the company Life Alert to dupe seniors into forfeiting their credit card information.
As Get Gephardt first reported in June, Mike Roundy of Eden, Utah, has been getting calls from a recorded message claiming that someone had bought him a personal medical alert system; a system where he could push a button on a necklace for help in the case of a medical emergency.
"Again, it's already been paid for so there's no cost to you whatsoever," the message on Mike’s answering machine said.
Mike says he thought it was probably a scam but decided to play along and found himself transferred to a saleswoman.
"She wanted my name, address and credit card number,” Mike said. Mike says he asked why a credit card was needed and he says he was told that he would be responsible for monthly monitoring charges.
That doesn't sound like, "no cost whatsoever," so with that, Mike ended the call. Then he decided to Get Gephardt to investigate.
We began by looking into the company Life Alert which trademarked the phrase, "I've fallen, and I can't get up." But the call to Mike was not from them. Right on Life Alert's website they have issued a "fraud alert," claiming that "imposters" trying to "mislead and defraud customers."
We searched court records, which revealed that Life Alert is currently suing four different companies. The lawsuit says these, "robo-calls" for violating Life Alert's "trademark" to the phrase, "I've fallen and I can't get up."
As we dug deeper we discovered this is not a problem isolated to Utahns. Maine's attorney general has warned people to "be wary," referring to the calls as a "scam.”
Georgia's governor also warns that the calls are "intended to mislead and confuse the elderly."
And now the FTC has issued a “scam alert” about the calls. They have found that people who gave their information to the caller have seen monthly charges of $35 and up for that "free" system.
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 illegal. The FTC wants to shut the company down and make them pay and request that if you get one of these bogus calls you report it to www.ftc.gov.
As for Mike, neither he nor his wife are in need of a personal medical alert system. If they ever do find themselves in the market, they certainly won't be ordering one from a cold-calling-stranger asking for credit card information.
“I hope that people realize that if they get this, simply hang up. It's a scam," Mike said.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)