By Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY The state is warning New Yorkers about a scam offering "free" medical alert devices to senior citizens, saying the alleged deal is aimed at getting people's private information.
The state Division of Consumer Protection said Monday that individuals posing as representatives for medical-device companies have been calling senior citizens asking for money and personal information, such as social-security numbers or credit-card information in return for "free" medical alert equipment.
The state said the salespeople can be aggressive in an attempt to convince seniors that they need the devices in case of an emergency. The state said in a news release that it has received dozens of complaints this year about the scam.
"The New York Department of State's Division of Consumer Protection asks you to keep your personal information heavily guarded. Legitimate companies selling medical alert equipment will never request your personal information in an unsolicited phone call," the state said in a news release.
The state offered tips when a person is reached with an unsolicited offer by a telemarketer:
• If you receive an unsolicited call asking for your personal information, hang up the phone.
• If you take the call, identity who is calling and what company they represent. Get an address and a phone number for the business.
• Only give out personal information if you initiate a call to a company you know to be reputable.
• If you think you are interested in an offer made by a telemarketer, hang up and call the company back to verify that the call is legitimate. In addition, do some light research through Internet posts or by asking relatives and friends.
• Avoid unwanted sales calls. Place your personal phone number on the Do Not Call Registry by calling 1-888-382-1222 or logging onto www.donotcall.gov and make sure to file a complaint (at the same website and phone number) if you are registered and receive telemarketing calls.
For more information regarding scams, contact the Department of State's Division of Consumer Protection at (518) 474-8583 or visit www.dos.ny.gov