United States - FTC, Florida Attorney General Sue to Stop Deceptive Robocalls from Operation That Pitched Seniors Free Medical Alert Systems
The FTC has filed a joint complaint with the Florida Attorney General's Office (Florida AG) charging a New York-based operation known as Lifewatch with using illegal and deceptive robocalls to trick older consumers throughout the United States and Canada into signing up for expensive medical alert systems. Last year, one of Lifewatch's telemarketing firms, Worldwide Info Services, agreed to a settlement with the FTC and the Florida AG banning it from making robocalls or engaging in other deceptive conduct.
In the new action, the FTC and the Florida AG allege that Lifewatch simply continued its telemarketing campaign using a variety of other telemarketers after Worlwide was shut down. According to the joint complaint, since 2012 Lifewatch has been bombarding primarily elderly consumers with millions of unsolicited robocalls. These calls are often placed to consumers whose numbers are on the National Do Not Call Registry, and typically use fake, spoofed caller ID information. They trick consumers into accepting a medical alert system that they are falsely told has been purchased for them, and are then saddled witn monthly recurring monitoring charges ranging from $29.95 to $39.95. Consumers who later realize they have been tricked discover that it is very difficult to cancel, and are told they have to pay to return the system or pay $400 penalty. The joint complaint charges the Lifewatch defendants with violating the FTC Act and the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rules, as well as Florida's Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The agencies are seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the defendants use of illegal robocalls and deceptive telemarketing claims, as well as funds for eventual restitution to victims.