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FTC’s latest robocall lawsuit targets senior medical alert fraud

FTC HQ Consumer Privacy FTC HQ, Washington DC

The Federal Trade Commission and the Florida Attorney General’s office filed a joint lawsuit to stop Lifewatch, a company that used robocalls to pitch seniors medical alert systems.

Lifewatch, a New York-based firm, has been using robocalls to contact primarily seniors, even if they were listed on the Do Not Call Registry. Since 2012, the firm offered seniors an emergency alert device that is free for one day in order to hook consumers into monthly fees ranging from $29.95 to $39.95. Cancelling isn’t easy and came with a $400 penalty, according to the FTC’s complaint filed in the U.S. district court for the northern district of Illinois.

What’s worse, one of Lifewatch’s former telemarketing firms, Worldwide Info Services, settled last November with the FTC for making deceptive robocalls, but Lifewatch just found another telemarketer.

“Some scammers won’t take a hint,” said Jessica Rich, the director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection. “When we sued Lifewatch’s telemarketers for making deceptive robocalls, they just continued the same illegal practices with new telemarketers. The FTC and the Florida Attorney General won’t be deterred, and will continue to work together to stop illegal robocalls,” she added.

The FTC and Florida AG are charging Lifewatch with violating the FTC Act, the FTC’s telemarketing sales rule, as well as related Florida laws.

Cracking down on robocalls, the FTC’s top consumer complaint, is like a game of whack-a-mole because the firms mask the numbers and use fake caller ID numbers. To date, the FTC has brought more than 105 enforcement actions against companies and telemarketers.