You have probably already registered with the National Do Not Call Registry. But, if not, doing so can help you avoid some of those annoying telemarketing calls that always seem to come just at the wrong moment, when you are sitting down to dinner or rushing out the door to an appointment. If you do register, and you can register your home or mobile phone for free, telemarketers should not call your number once it has been on the registry for 31 days. If they do, you can file a complaint on the National Do Not Call website at: https://www.donotcall.gov/, which is the same site at which you register your phone numbers.
Lately, scammers have been making phone calls claiming to represent the National Do Not Call Registry. The calls claim to provide an opportunity to sign up for the registry. These calls are not coming from the registry or the Federal Trade Commission, and you should not respond to these calls.
Other calls you should never respond to are the so-called “robocalls.” Companies can send out thousands of calls via the Internet, and scammers care little about the “Do Not Call” list, so you might still get such calls. It’s tempting to “press 9” when they tell you to, to take your number off the list, but experts say it’s safer to just hang up, because most of these calls are “lead generators” and they just want to know if your number is legitimate so that they can target you again with a future call. If you have caller ID, and can write down the number from which the call seems to originate, then make a complaint on the Do Not Call page, or to the Federal Trade Commission. It will attempt to spot patterns and go after the most damaging perpetrators.
Lately, there have been a number of common telephone scams targeting seniors.
One is particularly easy to fall for because it targets older people who may live alone, or are diabetic or have some other issue that would make them vulnerable. The caller tells the person that a medical alert system has been ordered for them and is ready to be shipped to the home, then asks for personal information, such as an address, or credit card. If the person falls for the scam, a monthly charge of $35 or more could end up on the person’s bill. Some of the scammers are even using the names of legitimate companies, such as Life Alert, to fool consumers. Life Alert has even posted a warning on its website about these scams: http://www.lifealert.com/fraudalert.aspx. As with any other robocall, it’s best to hang up and not engage with the caller. Low income frail elders can often get these same systems at lower or no cost through agencies such as SeniorCare, or their hospital, and should never sign up for systems offered to them by a recorded call. Any time there’s doubt, hang up!
Anne Springer is the public relations director of SeniorCare Inc., Cape Ann’s local area agency on aging. To reach SeniorCare, call 978-281-1750.