Scammers push medical devices on seniors

BBB warns of telemarketers offering bogus products

Alaskan seniors are being targeted with unwelcomed calls from telemarketers pitching unneeded medical devices. Better Business Bureau and the Alaska Medicare Information Office say the callers will trick seniors into parting with personal information and agreeing to medical devices that may be lesser quality than claimed.

Alaska health officials say the practice has been rampant in the state. The callers often times will offer Medicare recipients free or discounted wrist splints, back braces and diabetic supplies, even though they may not need them. According to the Federal Trade Commission, beneficiaries are not only misled, but in many cases end up having to pay for the device in full or through co-pays and deductibles. These scams typically target seniors, but anyone can become a victim.

BBB advises consumers to beware of phone solicitations for products and services. It’s wise to contact health care providers about any medical issues before committing to a product or service.

Just say no. Never give personal and private information to a solicitor over the phone, especially if the call wasn’t initiated. BBB suggests just hanging up.

Free offers may not be free. Even if the consumer is told that Medicare will be billed, there may be out-of-pocket expenses, such as co-pays and deductibles.

Reject robocalls. Some companies use robocalls to sell medical alert devices. If called, never press a numbered option. This verifies that the phone number is a working number and the calls may increase in frequency.

Check endorsements. Callers may claim to be connected with legitimate associations and agencies. Check first at or call the healthcare agency directly to verify the endorsement.

For more information on Medicare scams or to report dishonest business practices, visit or contact the Medicare Information Office at 907-770-2070.

Michelle Tabler is the Better Business Bureau Alaska Regional Manager.