orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

November 30, 2012

New alert system scheme targets seniors

Special to The Leader
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” is a well known phrase that we have heard over and over on the radio and television that advertises an alert product for seniors living alone. This product can most certainly be a life saver, but it is also easy for schemers to market sound alike items that are actually a bad deal.

Recently, a new scheme targeting seniors has come to light that appears to be a ruse to possible Medicare fraud. The senior receives a phone call about an alert system that is free for six months, then it is only $10 a month. Sounds like a good deal and it certainly beats out the well known national competitor, but with will all things too good to be true, is it a real deal? How does it work?

First, they want to send someone to your home to discuss the system with you. Then at the appointment, they turn the tables and want to provide you a back brace and a knee brace that will be “free” from Medicare.

“This is a good example of how someone can steal money from the Medicare system,” states Barbara Parrott McGinity, Program Director for the Texas Senior Medicare Patrol. “They offer an a simple item, tell you we will get your doctor to approve it, and since Medicare pays for it, why not get it?”

Unless you have discussed getting these items with your doctor, you should not be discussing them with a door to door sales person.

McGinity states, “they are likely to bill Medicare for a more expensive item than you receive ripping off Medicare for thousands of dollars.”

What can you do to protect yourself and your Medicare? Never let strangers come to your home for any purpose. If you really think you are interested in listening to a sales pitch or need a service, then have a family member or friend present to protect you from the smooth sales pitch. More importantly, call the Texas Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-888-341-6187 to see if this sounds legitimate. Report suspicious behavior to the Texas SMP.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is also a great resource for you in determining if a company is really legitimate. The well known alert company is an Accredited Business with the BBB and has a record you can check online at www.bbb.org. The company described above, has a very nice website with no real information. They do not publish an actual location of business and their phone number rings to a full mail box. Does not sound like a reliable company worth your time or money.

Just one more red flag that demonstrates they are not interested in selling you an alert system, all they want is that very valuable Medicare number. Best thing to do when you get a call like this is to HANG UP!