Medical Alert Company Used Illegal, Deceptive Marketing Practices, says Federal Complaint
Federal and state authorities are charging a medical alert company with using illegal and deceptive robocalls to trick consumers into signing up for its products.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Florida Attorney General's Office have filed a joint complaint against Lifewatch, a New York-based company, that they claim scammed older consumers into signing up for medical alert systems with monthly monitoring fees.
The complaint is related to a November 2014 settlement with one of Lifewatch's telemarketing firms, which used robocalls and deceptive sales pitches to sign up unknowing seniors. The firm agreed to stop its illegal practices. The current complaint alleges that Lifewatch was aware of, and is responsible for, the illegal activity.
Lifewatch allegedly continued the campaign using other telemarketing companies.
According to the complaint, since 2012 Lifewatch has been bombarding elderly consumers with millions of unsolicited robocalls. Numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry were also targeted and telemarketers often used fake caller ID information.
In pre-recorded messages, the company falsely claimed that a medical alert system had been purchased for them and that they could receive the $400 system at no cost. Consumers are eventually told they would be responsible for a monthly monitoring fee costing between $30 and $40, which would be automatically charged to a credit card once the system was received and activated.
This was not the case, as the credit cards were charged almost immediately. Consumers found that it was very difficult to cancel and were told that they would have to pay to return the system or pay a $400 penalty.
The FTC and Florida Attorney General are seeking an injunction to stop the company's use of illegal robocalls and marketing claims, as well as funds to be used to compensate victims.