The Federal Trade Commission is sending 71,899 checks totaling more than $1.8 million to consumers, including many older Americans, tricked into paying for supposedly free in-home medical alert devices. The money comes from a settlement with New York-based Lifewatch, Inc.
TheFTC’s complaint, filed jointly with the Florida Attorney General’s Office, alleged that the defendants bombarded consumers with at least a billion unsolicited robocalls to pitch supposedly “free” medical alert systems. These pre-recorded messages claimed that Lifewatch’s medical alert system was endorsed or recommended by reputable organizations like the American Heart Association. The company’s telemarketers often told consumers that a medical alert system had been purchased for them, and they could receive it “at no cost whatsoever.” Consumers eventually learned that they were responsible for monthly monitoring fees and that it was difficult to cancel without paying a penalty.
In addition to imposing the monetary penalty to provide consumer refunds, the order settling the FTC’s charges bans the Lifewatch defendants from telemarketing and prohibits them from misrepresenting the terms associated with the sale of any product or service.
The FTC is returning $1,808,260 to defrauded consumers. All checks are for $25.15, and will expire in 90 days, as indicated on the check. Recipients who have questions about their refund can call the administrator, Analytics, LLC, at 1-866-484-1466. The FTC never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check.
In 2020, FTC actions led to more than $483 million in refunds to consumers across the country, but the United States Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the FTC lacks authority under Section 13(b) to seek monetary relief in federal court going forward. The Commission has urged Congress to restore the FTC’s ability to get money back for consumers.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, stop deceptive and unfair business practices and scams, and educate consumers. Report fraud, scams, or bad business practices at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Get consumer advice at consumer.ftc.gov. Also, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases, and read the FTC’s blogs.