Better Business Bureau Scam Alert: Medic Alert Robo Calls

July 31, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Chicago, IL - July 23, 2013 - Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) is warning consumers of automated calls promising them a free medical alert system. The system is supposed to help protect seniors in the event of medical emergencies or break-ins.

BBB has received numerous phone calls and comments from concerned seniors in recent weeks who say they received a call - in these cases automated "robo-calls" - from a company identifying itself as "Emergency Medical Alert Systems," "Senior Safety Alert," "Senior Emergency Care," "Senior Safe Alert," or something similar.

The automated message says that "someone has ordered a free medical alert system for you, and this call is to confirm shipping instructions." The message then instructs the listener to press a button to speak to a customer service representative for verification purposes, where the "representative" asks for the listener's credit card and personal information.

"These automated dialing systems can place tens of thousands of calls a day and the calls appear to target the elderly and disabled" said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "The calls also claim to be from various well-known medical alert service providers, but the providers say the calls are not originating from them."

BBB shares some tips on how consumers can avoid being a victim:

• Hang up the phone! Do not press any buttons. Don't even speak!
• If you answer and a live person is on the line, ask for the company's physical address. A legitimate company will not refuse to give this information to its potential customers. If the representative refuses to give out a physical address for the company or other identifying information, it is most likely a scam.
• If you are interested ask for something to be sent in writing.
• Don't respond to offers to "opt out" of future calls. That alerts the caller that this is a working number.
• Don't pay for anything you receive and didn't order even if legal action is threatened. According to the Federal Trade Commission you have a legal right to keep it as a "free gift".
• Never give your bank or credit card information, or your social security number to anyone over the telephone.
BBB recommends that if you are listed on the Federal Do Not Call Registry that you file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at

Online Car Sales Increase Scam Potential, Warns Better Business Bureau

CHICAGO, IL - July 25, 2013 - Today there is an increasing number of consumers purchasing cars online. With that there is an increasing opportunity for consumers to be scammed. In some cases buyers purchase vehicles advertised, at a price often below book value, by individuals who don't own them. The scammer never meets the customers in person and requires that payment be made via wire transfer. In the end, the scammer gets the money and the consumer gets nothing. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) advises consumers to look for the red flags with online car sales scams.

"Because consumers may see the price as a pretty good deal they are often act quickly, without any investigation and that's where they get into trouble," said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "Consumers need to use the same, if not greater precautions on line, that they'd use making a purchase at a dealership." The BBB offers the following tips for online car shopping: Check the vehicle's price. Before buying a car, check out a similar make and model's price on other websites. If the price is way below market value, it's probably a scam. Communicate with the seller. If a seller refuses to meet in person, this is a bad sign. Sellers should also allow the buyer to inspect the vehicle before making payment. Be careful with the transaction. Be cautious of transactions in which the seller and the vehicle are in different locations. The seller may claim they are not able to take the car along because of military deployment, moving because of family circumstances, or job relocation. Scammers also try to push for quick payments via wire payment systems, so never send money using this payment method. Check the vehicle identification number. When you check out the car, make sure the car's vehicle identification number (VIN) matches with the number on the paperwork. The VIN can be found on the car's dashboard on the driver's side of the vehicle. Make sure the VIN number on the card matches the number on the insurance card, insurance policy and vehicle title and registration. For more advice on online car sales scams, visit

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