8 on Your Side: Seniors Targeted in 'Lifeline' Scam

LAS VEGAS - Many people have seen the ad featuring an elderly woman in distress who utters the famous line, "I've fallen, and I can't get up." It was used for years to sell a product called Life Alert.

Scam artists are now trying to sell seniors something similar. They say their product is free.

Ida Lee Poly says the scammers called her.

"I just had a call, and I saw the number was local on my caller ID, so I picked up the phone," she said. "(They said) I had a prepaid emergency alert system that was going to be delivered to me free of charge."

The recorded call asked Poly to press a number to talk to someone. Once she got through to a real person, she let that person have it.

"I said, ‘If it is delivered to my house, I will refuse and report you to the BBB,'" she said. "The guy on the other end said, ‘Oh, I guess we will take you off the list.'"

The company never removed her name from the call list, and that's how this billion dollar scam works. They offer you a free product. If you refuse, they continue to call or send the product anyway, hoping to wear you down.

"They are out there, and they are like sharks, and they are just gathering around the fish so they can attack. Seniors are easy prey," Poly said.

If you accept, they want your credit card number for monthly operational fees. Some seniors say they've been charged hundreds of dollars.

"It is not fair. We have worked hard, and why are they trying to take advantage of seniors who may not be as sharp as they used to be?" Poly said.

The reason is it works. Scammers score approximately $3 billion a year from seniors. Scammers are clever. They use numbers that seem local, and they speak quickly on the phone to confuse people they call.

Your best bet whenever you get a call offering you something for free is to hang up. You can also alert others about the scams. The more you and your loved ones know about them, the less likely you are to fall for them.

You can also report scams to 8 on Your Side by calling 702-650-1907.

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