But don’t be fooled. It’s the same old scam that tries to get
your credit or bank account information for supposed monitoring fees
for the “free” device that never arrives.
Provide that info and you risk identity theft.
The latest twists: Some robocalls now also promise that you’re
entitled to $3,000 in money-saving coupons. Others falsely claim
that the free-device offer is being made on behalf of AARP.
In recent days, reports of both scenarios have flooded the Fraud
Watch Network from AARP members and others who have received these
robocalls. They report dozens of different phone numbers displayed
on caller ID.
The calls urge recipients to press 1 to get their free device by
providing their address and credit card, or press 5 to opt out from
future calls and “alert your health care provider that you have
refused the offer.”
But don’t do either. Pressing 1 gets you to a live operator, who
does a hard sell with more scare tactics to get you to reveal your
financial and personal information. Pressing 5 tells these crooks
you have a working phone number that’s ripe for future nuisance
calls. What should you do?
Hang up, without pressing any key.
On this or other robocalls, don’t provide any personal information,
including your name, address and birthdate. Certainly do not divulge
financial accounts or Medicare and Social Security numbers.
Realize that displayed numbers are likely fake — easily done with
Internet-based telephone systems or specialzed software — but still
report them and other Do Not Call violations to ftc.gov/complaint or
Contact your phone-service provider to block robocall numbers. Don’t
pay for this protection, though, because caller ID-displayed numbers
are changed frequently.
Spread the Word
Here’s a sample of what we’ve heard about this revised ripoff.
“The call I received last week asked for my address so they could
send me a ‘free’ medical alert pendant to wear around my neck,” says
Jack Hobbs of Kansas. “Of course I hung up, even after the call said
I could get $3,000 in grocery coupons if I pressed 1. I just want
others to know so they don’t get scammed.”
[to top of second
Stuart Radmall of Utah received several
medical-alert robocalls in recent weeks. His made no mention of
coupons, “only that I was selected to receive a free medical-alert
device on the recommendation of my family members, doctors and, in
one, from the AARP. I knew it was a scam and want to warn others.”
These vigilant Fraud Watch Network members join Pennsylvania’s
Kathleen Kane, the first state attorney general to warn about this
latest wave of robocalls. The Fraud Watch Network has received
reports of these robocalls from citizens across the U.S. in addition
to those occurring in the Keystone State.
The Numbers Game
So far, dozens of phone numbers have been used. But they are spoofed
and often display local area codes and prefixes on recipients’
caller ID to suggest a “local” angle. By next week, a new batch of
area codes and numbers may be used, many of them simply made up or
stolen from legitimate residences and businesses.
In last year’s robocalls promising free medical-alert devices,
fraudsters sometimes posed as representatives of legitimate
companies. So far, no company names have been mentioned in the
latest wave of bogus calls reported to the Fraud Watch Network.
Since this scam began, in 2013, there’s no indication that anyone
has ever received a free device, as promised. But after providing
financial account information, consumers report getting billed for
bogus monitoring services — and even threatened with lawsuits if
they didn’t pay.
Illinois SMP Fraud Alert; AARP]