Around Acadiana

Feb 26, 2013 3:43 PM by KATC

BBB of Acadiana warns of elderly

As people live longer and longer, the elderly look to maintain their independence through the golden years. But one national scam operating into the Acadiana area is taking advantage of Acadiana seniors by using high pressure fear tactics to lure them into scams.

Elderly residents recently reported pushy, suspicious telemarketing calls from businesses going by the names "Senior Emergency Care," "Senior Safety Alert, "American Senior Benefits Program" or "Senior Safe Alert."

They are receiving prerecorded telemarketing messages pitching a personal emergency alarm system.

According to BBB files, they claim that the alarm is necessary to protect against a long list of dangers, including break-ins and medical emergencies. The scammers also claim that senior can receive an alarm system worth several hundred dollars installed for free, but they are responsible for a monthly charge of about $30.

The recording then prompts elderly residents to press a button and speak to a live person for "verification." However, victims reported that staff refused to provide basic business information, such as a business address.

Typically, the calls appear to come from an area code in the surrounding region, but these numbers can be misrepresented. In most cases, these calls are phishing scams that impersonate real businesses and seek credit card and banking account numbers as well as personal information.

The callers also violated Federal Trade Commission rules by calling those on national "Do Not Call" lists.

The BBB of Acadiana offers the following tips to identify and avoid this scam as well as other telemarketing scams:


  • Avoid businesses trying to create a sense of panic. In this case, the call alarms seniors by describing a situation where they are incapacitated at home and cannot call for help. Also watch out for calls that push for immediate action.

 

  • Avoid solicitations that promise something for free. Be wary of "free" offers that ask you to pay a handling fee or other charges.

 

  • Implies an endorsement from a well-known organization. In this case, the call claims the alarm system is endorsed by the American Heart Association and the "American Diabetic Association," which is really the "American Diabetes Association." Others claim a good BBB rating, so start with Trust. Check them out at www.bbb.org.

 

  • Watch for errors in fraudulent calls, such as referring to the American Diabetes Association as the "Diabetic Association."

 

  • The business does not have or is not willing to provide a legitimate physical mailing address.

 

  • The BBB of Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses. Please contact the BBB at www.acadiana.bbb.org or (337) 981-3497 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America.

 

  • The BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.

Acadiana residents can now have BBB information in the palm of their hand with the official BBB Search app, a convenient, mobile BBB solution available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The app can be found at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bbb-search-find-local-businesses/id440014505?mt=8.

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