Scammers target older Arkansans, AG says


LITTLE ROCK – Scammers posing as vendors of medical-alert equipment and monitoring services have recently targeted older consumers in Arkansas and across the country.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has received multiple complaints in recent weeks about the pre-recorded telephone calls to senior citizens from what is said to be a legitimate medical alert company. However, con artists are making the illegitimate and illegal sales calls in attempts to obtain money and personal financial information from senior citizens.

McDaniel issued this consumer alert Wednesday to warn older Arkansans about the scam.

“These callers are subjecting senior citizens to high-pressure sales tactics and ominous, false warnings about their need for these services,” McDaniel said. “Arkansas consumers should be especially vigilant in letting senior citizens know to hang up on these calls and helping protect our loved ones from this scam.”

The scammers appear to be using a number with a 501 area code to make the pre-recorded calls, known as robocalls, in Arkansas. McDaniel cautioned senior citizens to avoid the calls, even if it appears they are being made from an in-state number.

The messages typically attempt to mislead a consumer into believing he or she must make upgrades to their existing equipment, or the consumers are pressured to alter their service agreements, usually at a cost. The callers may promise free monitoring equipment or say that equipment was already being shipped. The scammers later follow up with phone calls trying to force consumers to provide credit card information.

The Medical Alert Monitoring Association has asked consumers who receive these calls and who currently have medical monitoring services to hang up and immediately report the calls to their service provider. The association, a trade group that represents the medical alert monitoring and personal emergency response services industry, has denounced the deceptive practice.

McDaniel offered these tips to senior citizens to help them avoid this and other types of telemarketing fraud:

• Never provide personal or financial information, such as credit card numbers or Social Security numbers, over the phone to anyone who is making an unsolicited call.

• Make sure callers who claim to be with legitimate businesses provide their names and contact information.

• Never wire money or provide information from a prepaid debit card to a stranger. It’s just like sending cash.

• Consider placing telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. Registration is free and is available by visiting www.donotcall.gov or calling (888) 382-1222. Though scammers rarely follow do-not-call regulations, consumers should nevertheless register in order to reduce the number of telemarketing calls they receive.

To report being a victim of this or other telemarketing scams, or for information about other consumer issues, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 482-8982 or visit the Consumer Protection Division’s website, www.GotYourBackArkansas.org.