BBB: Medical Alert Scam Targets Seniors
will be reaching retirement age at a rate of about 8,000 a day and 90% of these people prefer to live at home in their later years. Since a large percentage of theseseniors are not able to reach out for help when an emergency occurs at home, caregivers for senior citizens benefit from passive connectivity to proactively monitor their loved ones well being in the home 24 hours/day. QMedic, a Boston, MA company, isdeveloping what it claims to be the first ever passive wearable sensing technologythat detects and predicts emergency events in the home, and sends real-time feedback to caregivers when something unusual occurs. This medical alert system warns the caregiver if the user is not wearing the device, fails to get out of bed, or is out of home for extended periods of time. The QMedic system requires the user to wear a waterproof bracelet which has a large button on the top. Sensors in the bracelet can monitor the seniors sleeping habits and gauge physical activity. The button on the bracelet can be pressed in case of an emergency around the house, which contacts the base station, which in turn calls the QMedics 24/7 emergency call center. A QMedic representative first tries to reach the user through the speakerphone attached to the base station, and if the user is able to convey his or her emergency situation, then the QMedic representative can send out an appropriate emergency response team or contact a family member. If the user is unable to respond, the QMedic representative attempts to reach the user through the home phone line.
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Some of the automated calls ask consumers to punch 1 if they wish to order a device or want further information. In other cases, salespeople told consumers that they were eligible for a free system or that a system had been paid for on their behalf and the salesperson needed to confirm shipping instructions. The BBB believes that consumers who are receptive to the sales pitch will be asked for financial information to cover a monthly monitoring service fee of $34.95. In many cases, senior citizens never received the devices but were still charged the monthly service fee. Others were unable to obtain refunds or return the items. Better Business Bureaus across the nation have reported similar calls coming from companies using the names Medical Emergency, Medical Alert Company, First Alert Company, Life Alert USA, Lifewatch, Senior Safety Alert, Senior Emergency Care, Senior Safe Alert, Emergency Medical Alert Systems or Medical Alarms Hewitt. Life Alert, the California firm that advertises Ive fallen and I cant get up, has sued two businesses that used names similar to its brand in robo-call marketing schemes. Life Alert also has posted a warning about the scammers on its website .
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Medical Alert Devices That Can Help Keep Seniors Safe
These units come with waterproof “SOS” buttons — typically in the form of a necklace pendent or bracelet — and a base station that connects to her home phone line. At the press of a button, your mom could call and talk to a trained operator through the system’s base station receiver, which works like a powerful speaker phone. The operator will find out what’s wrong and will notify family members, a neighbor, friend or emergency services as needed. If you’re interested in this type of alert, there are literally dozens of services to choose from. One of the most widely used is the Philips Lifeline Medical Alert Service , which costs $35 per month, plus an $82 start-up fee. Phillips also offers a new Auto Alert option (for $48 per month) that has fall detection sensors in the SOS button that can automatically summon help without your mom ever having to press a button. Some other major players in the industry that are a little less expensive (under $30 per month) include: LifeFone , LifeStation , Bay Alarm Medical , Alert1 , LifeGuardian and MedicalAlert .
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