Scam Alert - Free lifeline service

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Scam targeting elderly features popular lifeline service

Report all scams to Ohio Attorney General`s Office



Here are some examples of reported complaints:Over the last few weeks, Council on Aging, our partners and law enforcement agencies across Ohio have received reports about a telephone scam targeting older adults.  The details of each reported incident are slightly different, but they all involve a service commonly used by many older adults, known as Lifeline (emergency response services).  Many of the phone calls are coming from a Cleveland (216) area code. 

  • Caller is ready to ship lifeline equipment and needs to collect personal information
  • Caller informs victim that they qualify for free lifeline services and need to collect personal information
  • Caller needs to schedule an installation appointment for lifeline equipment

The Ohio Attorney General`s Consumer Protection Division has received numerous complaints about this scam from across the state.  They are investigating, but they need to collect information from people who`ve received these calls in order to build their case.  

If you or someone you know has received one of these phone calls, or has been the victim of any other type of scam, please report it to the Ohio Attorney General`s Office by calling 1-800-282-0515.  You can also file your complaint online.  

Common scams targeting older adults:

  • Living Trusts
  • Funeral Plans
  • Sweepstakes
  • Charity Campaigns
  • Medical Equipment
  • Medicare and Other Insurance
  • Home Improvements and Repairs 

Protection tips for seniors and caregivers: 

1.  Be skeptical and wary of…strangers at your door

  • Even if someone claims to be associated with an agency you know, ask to see identification. Feel free to call the organization to check. (Tell the person to wait outside.)
  • Be wary of individuals who claim they work for Medicare. Medicare representatives do not make house calls or solicit beneficiaries by telephone. 
  • Do not accept offers of free medical equipment or respond to door-to-door sales people who sell medical equipment. Only your doctor can prescribe medical equipment for you.

2.  Be skeptical and wary of…calls and emails from strangers

  • Do not make decisions under pressure of a time-limited offer. Ask for written information. Never accept free medical equipment or services in exchange for your Medicare number. 
  • Services that are truly free do not need your Medicare number. 
  • Don`t give personal info over the phone, internet, mail or in person to an unfamiliar company or person even if you`re told it`s "just for verification purposes."
  • Treat your Medicare number as you do your credit card. Never give your number over the telephone to strangers.

3.  Guard your important documents

  • Retrieve mail daily, or have someone you trust do it.
  • Don`t leave checkbooks, etc. lying about.
  • Destroy unneeded financial documents.

4.  Be cautious about payments and lending

  • Pay only for services rendered. For example, do not pay in advance for home repairs.
  • Do not allow someone to write checks for you unless you have formally authorized them to do so. (e.g. Guardianship, Representative or Protective Payee, Power of Attorney and Durable POA)
  • Do not lend money or belongings to someone working for you.


For more information:

Help4Seniors Resource Directory: Frauds and Scams

Report a Complaint: Ohio Attorney General`s Office

Fraud Prevention Fact Sheets for Council on Aging clients:
Butler County
Clinton County
Hamilton County
Warren County