The not-for-profit North East Community Action Corporation (NECAC), a 12-county area social service, community health and public housing Community Action Agency, is warning senior citizens about a scam involving so-called free medical alert services.
NECAC Deputy Director for Community Health Programs Brenda Fuqua said the scam sounds innocent, but could end up costing seniors a lot of money.
“Some of the assistance provided by NECAC’s In Home Health Services program are contracted through the Northeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging, which forwarded information to us about this scam,” Fuqua said. “NECAC is taking a pro-active role in promoting the safety of our clients by getting the word out to those who are vulnerable to such scams.”
Fuqua outlined how the scam works.
Seniors receive a computerized automatic telephone call saying that their children, doctors or insurers have put them on a list to get free medical alert services, she said. The seniors are asked to press five on their phone to accept the free gift, then are called back by a live operator and asked for a credit card number or other payment.
Fuqua said some seniors have been asked to provide Social Security numbers and other identifying information.
“We urge seniors not to fall victim to what sounds like a good deal,” she said. “It’s not, and it could end up costing you a great deal of money down the road. Never give out any private information over the telephone. It’s not rude to hang up on someone who’s trying to rip you off.”
The Missouri Senior Medicare Patrol urges people who’ve been contacted or victimized by scammers to call 1-888-515-6565.
NECAC contracts with federal, state and local governments, private businesses and other not-for profit organizations to operate and administer self-sufficiency service programs for the low-income, elderly, youth, disabled and disadvantaged population. The agency’s Central Administration Offices are located in Bowling Green, with NECAC Service Centers operated in each county.