FTC Fines Medical Alert Company $3.4 million For Senior Bullying

Ben Popken
Elderly woman does crosswords as she ignores a call on her phone.
Damian Dovarganes | AP

If you've fallen and can't get up, this isn't the company you ask to lend a hand.

The FTC has imposed a $3.4 million judgment against "Instant Response Systems" for calling seniors and "bullying and tricking them" into paying for medical alert devices they never ordered.

According to the FTC complaint, sales reps for the company used high-pressure sales tactics, including claiming the customers had previously ordered from them and owed hundreds of dollars. Instant Response would send fake invoices and medical alert pendants without seniors' permission, then threaten them with legal action if they didn't pay up, the FTC alleged. (Tweet This)

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The FTC said the company was also hard to reach when customers tried to cancel or get their money back. The company could not be reached for comment. When NBC tried to call Instant Response, its phones had been disconnected.

"Instant Response Systems lied to older people to get them to pay for medical alert systems they didn't order and didn't want," said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Consumers can file complaints about unfair business practices with the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP.