If at first you don’t succeed…
At the FTC, one of our goals is to stop scammers and end their schemes. Sometimes, that requires persistence. Take the case announced today by the FTC and the Florida Attorney General against Lifewatch, Inc., a company that sells medical alert systems, mostly to older people.
Last year, the FTC and the Florida AG sued Senior Safe Alert, a telemarketer that made illegal robocalls to pitch so-called “free” medical alert devices to older people. But they also lied about the cost and quality, and that company was quickly shut down. But the medical alert systems came from another company, Lifewatch, which simply recruited new telemarketers. You can probably guess what happened next: they kept up the deceptive campaign, including illegal robocalls. So now the FTC and the Florida AG are suing Lifewatch.
Here’s a trifecta of misrepresentations the FTC says Lifewatch made in its telemarketing campaign:
- Your alert system has “already been paid for” by a friend or family member. Not true.
- The system is endorsed by major organizations like the American Heart Association or AARP. Nuh-uh.
- You won’t be charged anything until you activate the device, and you can cancel the service at any time without further payment. Not so much. Actually, Lifewatch charged people as soon as it got their account information. Then, they refused to let people cancel until the company got back the equipment or a $400 penalty.
There are legitimate companies selling medical alert systems. But they don’t rely on unexpected – and illegal – robocalls. If you get a recorded sales message (and you haven't given your written permission to get calls from the company on the other end), the call is illegal. And it’s probably a scam. Hang up and report your experience to the FTC at ftc.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.