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What if a company called you, demanding you pay for a product they said you ordered? What if they threatened you if you didn’t pay? And what if you never actually ordered that product, never even saw it, and never promised to pay for anything? 

A recently-filed FTC case claims that Instant Response Systems, a Brooklyn-based company, did all that and more.

The company used telemarketers to sell medical response systems – basically, a pendant marketed as a way for someone to get help in case of an emergency. The lawsuit says Instant Response Systems targeted older consumers across the United States. That’s just target marketing, right? 

Except there’s no “just” about it. According to the lawsuit, the telemarketers would say they were calling in response to the consumer’s request – or a request by the consumer’s family – when that wasn’t true. The FTC says that sometimes, telemarketers would say the person had placed the order and now payment was due. Sometimes, the telemarketer would threaten the consumer with legal action if they didn’t pay, often hundreds of dollars.

What if that happened to you? If it happened to me, I’d probably get in touch with the company to dispute the charges. Seems reasonable, right? According to the FTC’s complaint, though, consumers who contacted Instant Response Systems either couldn’t reach anyone, or were faced with threats, verbal abuse, more demands to pay, and sometimes even threats of a lawsuit. 

At the FTC’s request, a US District Court judge temporarily shut down Instant Response Systems. Stay tuned to see what happens next. 

In the meantime, how about calling an older loved one, telling them a little about the case, and asking them to tell you if they ever see anything like this?

Tagged with: health, scam, telemarketing


Does your sight officer a Federal Trade Commission fraud affidavit


How did the person pay?

Thank you FTC! Protecting American consumers and families. This reminds me of some debt collectors and magazine salespeople that were a bunch of scam artists and liars that threw the same bunch of verbal abuse and threats at me when I challenged them. Good thing I reported some of them to the FTC. They stopped calling.

Thanks for the heads up on this matter, one never really knows, except for you helping everyone who are new.

Thank you for these articles! I am the editor of a neighborhood newsletter. Many of our residents are elderly or have older parents. I will be reprinting this and sending it on to others!

I have been getting calls offering free emergency response systems. I have declined, asked not to be called again and received another call 10 minutes later, four in one day. I assume this is a scam?

Sounds like the same company that has been calling me everyday for over a week, sometimes twice a day - the number is 443-741-3981. They don't care about the do not call list.

I had a debt collector call me for the pro-rated tent on his apartment lease off campus 2 months after it was due. I tried to explain to her the numbers did not add up and to present me an itemized bill. She screamed at me saying she sent the bill to my son st the address where she knee he no longer lived and told me I was refusing to pay. She hung up the phone and immediately called my 18 y/o son during exams told him I refused to pay and that she would ruin his credit and prevent him from getting any financial aid. I then did an exhaustive search to locate this agency as I never received any written notification or other identifying information.i then wrote a 30 day dispute letter suggesting legal contact me since they're had been violations of the FDCPA. Needless to say, I was never taken seriously and I am an attorney. God help your average person.

Lucky you. I have a PhD and in a former life did medical research and document analysis. I am not a lawyer but well trained at finding and organizing information. I have a dentist after me to pay a bill that was sent to collections for a bridge and I have my teeth! Its been going on for years and as I work to prove my case the amount is withdrawn,changes randomly and is the resubmitted as a new amount. Finally I am being sued for still ANOTHER amount (dental services and late fees prior to legal fees) that I have never even been sent to collection prior t me being sued. So now I guess I get to have that as well on my prior to this clean credit report. I have found out the hard way, anyone can say they owe you anything and get away with messing up your credit. Really it has been shocking. Who thought going to get my teeth checked would cause me so much grief?

Learn how to spell and conjugate a sentence. God help your average attorney.

Learn some common decency for the average person including the average attorney. You are forgiven for your outburst just the same. Typos are common to all of us especially when we are emotionally charged. Why are you making a statement like this in response to an FTC complaint anyway, think about it?


Just as significant a problem is when companies place orders online from competing firms' websites, only to return them demanding a full refund including shipping, and proceed to write defamatory reviews about said company across the web, filing false BBB complaints, Yelp reviews (from our experience, about 2/3 of the negative reviews on Yelp are written by competitors of the entity being reviewed), etc. Amazon is particularly notorious for failing to police its marketplace for sabotage.

Consumers need be protected from scams, but so do the honest retailers who are routinely victimized by scams that are every bit as nefarious as those targeting consumers.

defrauded by telephone company

We are being billed for a magazine account with Buckmasters, that we never ordered ($130.)
After we returned bill with cancel Never ordered all over it we still receive bills, they are nasty on phone, they hang up on you, threaten with collections and finally being contacted by a company Chase Recievables many times by phone and now in the mail to pay this so called debt we are at wits end. I warned them of impending actions against the caller and the Collection agency and received a call back saying sorry wrong account. But in the mail the very next day I receive another Collection letter saying I have a verbal aggrement to pay this debt. Never made any claim except to say I did not order magazine nor will I ever pay. The internet is full of complaints with the same story as mine same Company same Collection Agency going back many years! How can this group be stopped?

This is frustrating to hear of such behavior. As a doctor who cares for elderly patients, things like this cause them to distrust the healthcare industry. Which is highly unfortunate, because trust is what is needed most!
Dr. Gietzen

No matter what the scammers are always have new ways to crack through some unsuspecting victims. Do not deal any thing thru cold call from other end, unless you know precisely who is calling.

First, I'd like to say thank you to the attorney who posted back in March. It was nice to read that and not to feel so alone. Not just by myself, but as a seemingly frequently targeted group, in the lower income and subsequently treated as a lower life form peoples! These scams are way out of hand, targeting absolutely anyone and everyone they can! Sure there are certain steps we NOW know to take, but if you're like me, and I'm willing to bet the majority here are, you only know all the info contained here since coming to this site after being wronged in some way! Problem is, for myself and countless others, once you've been hit, it just SNOWBALLS. Rarely is it just one scam, I swear they all know each other and sell off your info to their brother's bogus company when they're done with ya! LOL! And when you ARE of limited means, good luck getting out of it! Not only was I victimized, and since brought to complete and irreparable credit and financial RUIN, I'm now the one being implicated! Ummm because I did what I thought I was supposed to do and reported it! Turns out I've been scammed a whole lot more times than I was even aware of, and unfortunately, this along with no proof of who the thief, or apparently thieves might be, and the fact that being poor makes it so that committing fraud myself is something I would stand to gain from in the eyes of the law, makes ME look like I'M the fraudulent party! Every time one of these scams is supposedly thwarted, 100 more surface...1 one of them being the very same scammer they thought they'd stopped. New phone company, new numbers, new fictitious business name, whatever, and they're right back in business the next day. Likely not in the US, so no hope of ever REALLY being stopped! So yeah, thanks for lettin me know what not to do NEXT time, but I now have nothing left for anyone to steal anyway. And guys, your word means diddly squat, so follow the steps on what to do if victimized only if you have real verifiable proof of who did this to you AND proof you could not have prevented this because if they don't implicate me as the fraud or thief, they will still, at the very least, hold me responsible for it all if I cannot show that I have done everything possible to protect myself. That means a really good security system on your wireless network and computers, and of course your cell phones and tablets too; every piece of identifying personal info either on your person currently or shredded and you may not ever have so much as let your spouse use your ATM card or your given your child your Gmail password...oh wait! Nope, my bad, can't have ever used a free email service at all; your home and car alarmed and never broken need to go on, you get it. So not kidding, I don't have the creativity to make up a story like this! I started out a good person; work hard... no Phd but a college degree; getting by with bills; 2 great kids - sending one to college this year... yet somehow while going through everyday life, maybe while watching Lost or something, ;-) I guess not paying attention, someone found a way, without my knowledge, to get a bit of my info. My only thought is off of a job application online - a common scam I'm finding out now, that I filled out after losing my good job of 15 years due to budget cuts. It's the only thing I can even think of that could caused this. Now I have pretty much the lowest possible credit score so no hope of ever owning, well...anything! No job, no money, praying my daughter gets enough from scholarships, humiliated - I'm looked at and treated like trash everywhere I turn, a record and possible jail time, (so even finding work will be a serious challenge, as if it wasn't already!)and impossible debt waiting for me after all of that. Not lookin for sympathy, I'm way past help at this point, just felt the need to throw out the warning to y'all, and a desperate hope that some higher up will take the time to give a hoot enough to at least try and make it so this can't keep happening to people! I cannot bear the thought of this happening to anyone else! Put ur cash in shoebox, trust no one, use the web only to stream movies or play Bejewled, and your name online if forced to create an account is Donald Duck. The heck with the phone, email or even snail mail, go talk to who you need to in person! Use home remedies when ill, and if you so much as order a pizza, get it on paper and have a copy in your Fort Knox-like safe. Last, just don't even let the kids outta the house. Advice for a scam-free life!

I am having something similar happen, but it is with a real company called Cabela's in Nebraska. I ordered a grill on line through Sears and paid for on my American Express. Five months later I get a letter from Cabela's saying I owed them $205 as my Visa card did not clear for merchandise they sent me. When I called them to find out what it was about, they said that the grill I bought from Sears came from them and that the Visa Sears used did not clear and that I now owed them the money or could send the grill back to them. I tried to explain to the woman that their problem was with Sears, not with me as I had paid for what I ordered to Sears. The woman was very abusive with me telling me I had stolen property and that they would continue writing to me and eventually turn me in to a collection agency if I did not pay them. I reconfirmed with American Express that they had paid Sears for the Grill and they had. I spoke to Sears and they say they bought the grill from another company, not from Cabela's. But Cabela's insists that that is not true and that I owe them the money and have sent me a second letter which threatens to turn me into a collection agency if I do not pay them. I am very upset by all of this, not able to sleep! Have written to Sears to see if they can send me a copy of their paid invoice for the grill so that I can send that to Cabela's to hopefully get them off my back.

I have a company called Global that constantly calls me and threatens me with a lawsuit. They keep leaving messages as I won't answer their calls. I don't know these people and I don't owe anyone anything, but somehow they got my name and phone number. They asked for my address, but I wouldn't give it. They are making my life miserable. I had my legal representative call them but they refused to give him any info though he gave them my claim number. They won't give their address so I can check on them, just Global. I filed a complaint with the FTC and am now putting my phone on the don't call list. I don't know what else to do.

Has the company making the illegal representations ("Instant Response Systems" of Brooklyn) gone out of business? Or has it merely changed its operations? I have received dozens of robo calls (sometimes twice a day) from a company that purports someone ordered on my behalf a Medical Alert System, and that company calls repeatedly to request more info from me so that it can send me the device free of charge. Of course, such a call is a violation of the Do Not Call List. The company calls from several different phone numbers. Is the FTC doing anything about such Do Not Call list violations?

I am writing about our recent/ongoing experience with CVS CareMark.
In January this year, my husband decided to get a new prescription of Crestor vis the mail service of CVS/CareMark. He received 90 day prescription from them, which we paid for by check on Feb. 1, 2013.
During the month of January, I had done some research on Crestor and didn't like the side effects it presented, so my husband decided to discontinue taking the drug altogether and to use more holistic methods to lower his cholesterol.
And soon afterward, he notified HMSA/ CVS Caremark of his desire to cancel the prescription.
On March 16, 2013 he received email confirmation of said cancellation.
Then, in May, a new supply of Crestor arrived in the mail. Along with a bill.
Since then, we have repeatedly tried to let them know that we didn't order, nor do we plan to pay for the last supply of Crestor we received. I have documentation to prove that we cancelled, and a copy of their response acknowledging our cancellation.
Yet, CVS continues to send bills and leave bully-like voicemails on our answering machine.
In June, I wrote them a letter explaining all of this and asked them to stop harassing us. But the harassment has not stopped and indeed has escalated, as they have now reported us to a collection agency.
We are not sure what else to do to make them stop harassing us. This is a big company and I'm sure they think they will just wear us down and ultimately we will pay the $200 just to get them off our backs.

Do not pay the additional $200 just to get them off your back. Once you do that, it will be never ending. Try sending an email (with "request a read receipt") or registered letter to their corporate office, along with a copy of your request to cancel and their acknowledgement of same. Demand that they stop sending the medication and bills immediately.

I received calls from that company 2-4 Times a day but it was always a recorded message and I never listened to the whole message. I just always hung up. I did try to call the number back and got that a recording that said the number wasn't a good number. The next to.e they called I listened to more of the message and the was an opt out selection so I did that and so far haven't received anymore calls. This was last month so we'll have to see if it worked

I was offered money twice by John Davis and Danielle! Received a phone call from someone who cussed at me so therefore I think we all deserve a cash prize... I've been playing these games almost everyday and what do I get out of it? Nothing...

We all should deserve a prize being that we got lied to!

Ive got a situation with american mint they informed me in a billing that we owed them 96.00 because of a coin shipment we ordered which we did not , checked with post office with a tracking number american mint gave me and they said they delivered it . Well we dont remember any delivery of any coins and if it was in a envelope we would have trashed it as junk mail so are we stuck how can i prove we didnt order anything

signed a promise note due to being asked to leave property after 10 years of being ripped off. we needed the money they ripped us off for years...... We feel they owe us much more money... We will not pay due to this greedy person What to do?

Do you want to talk to a lawyer? To find a lawyer you could use this state-by-state list from the American Bar Association, or visit this site from the State Bar Associations. If you are a veteran, the American Bar Association has the ABA Pro Bono resources for Veterans.

sumbit numnbers to DO NOT CALL and some of the calls stop for a while

when I got home there was a message on my answering service that said I owes stop charges call 877-2293394 ignoring will be accepting charges. well, I had no idea who called. called the number and got a foreign speaking person who I did not understand ..since I had no idea who this was or the company as I did not understand him...I would not leave my name.

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