COLUMBUS —Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned that more than 200 Ohioans have reported unsolicited phone calls offering medical alert devices this year. About 40 percent of those calls were reported last month alone. Consumers who respond to the calls risk losing money or jeopardizing their personal information.
“These calls have been circulating throughout the country, and we’re seeing more Ohioans filing complaints,” Attorney General DeWine said. “The most important thing to remember is not to respond to suspicious calls in any way. Don’t give out your credit card number or bank account information, and don’t press any buttons. Just hang up.”
Typically, the call is a prerecorded message saying the consumer is eligible for a free medical alert system or that someone bought an alert device for the consumer. The message may ask the consumer to “press one” to schedule the delivery or press another button to decline. Consumers who respond to the calls may be connected to a live representative who likely will ask for a bank account number, credit card number, or other personal information. Later consumers may receive charges for the “free” system.
Consumers also have reported Medicare card scams, in which callers claim to represent Medicare and say the consumer needs a new Medicare card. The caller asks for the consumer’s bank account information or Social Security number to process and fulfill the new card. In reality, the caller does not represent Medicare.
Scammers often try to take advantage of what’s in the news, and with the upcoming health care changes involving the Affordable Care Act, these kinds of scams may become more common.
Attorney General DeWine offers consumers the following tips to protect themselves:
• Don’t give out personal information over the phone.
    Don’t respond to suspicious calls. Even if the caller says you can press a button to opt out, don’t follow the instructions. By pressing a button, you indicate that you have an active phone number, which may lead to more calls.
    Don’t trust your caller ID. Scammers often “spoof” the number that appears on your caller ID so that a call appearing to be from a local area code phone number may be coming from another state or another country.
    Be careful any time someone offers you something for “free” but requests personal information. Once they get your credit card number or bank account information, they could charge you.
    If you get a call with a recorded sales message and you haven’t given the company your written permission to call, the call is in violation of Do Not Call laws and the offer is likely a scam.
    If you gave information to one of these callers, check your account statements. If you find unexpected charges, ask your bank or credit card company to remove them.
Contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or for help or to report a scam.
Editor’s note: This release is dated from August, however, a reader recently reported receiving an unsolicited call from (410) 844-5521. That number is listed as “not in use” on caller ID and when the number is dialed, a “not in use” message is received.