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Seen At 11: New Phone Scam Targets Senior Citizens And Their Bank Accounts

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) -- Could you or a family member fall victim to the latest, bank account draining, scam? CBS 2 recently learned that thieves have been coercing local residents into believing that their health is in danger and ripping them off in the process.

Scam artists pretending to be associated with the companies that sell medical alert bracelets have been taking advantage of senior citizens, CBS 2's Dick Brennan reported.

Betty Klopfle and her husband Raymond recently received a phone call saying that an alert bracelet had been purchased for them as a gift, all they had to do to activate it was give up their credit card number.

"He says 'what is your birthday', and I say, '7/5/40', he says, 'see you are in the early stages of Alzheimers', and I says, 'what the freak are you talking about in the early stages of Alzheimer's,'" Klopfle said.

Experts told CBS 2 that the scam is running rampant right now.

"They will look for whatever it is you're afraid of and they'll zoom right in, try to turn it and try to create fear in you," explained Claire Rosenzweig, President of the New York Better Business Bureau.

The apparent goal of the scam is to con seniors into handing over money and important personal information like Social Security and bank numbers.

Klopfle told CBS 2 that she hung up on the initial call but that the calls kept coming.

"It can be very scary when someone calls you up and says you owe us money," attorney Nur Ul Haq said.

In March the Federal Trade Commission took action against a Brooklyn company that was allegedly coercing elderly consumers into paying up to $1,600 a month for a medical alert service.

"They would call up the consumer or send a letter threatening criminal or civil lawsuits for nonpayment," Ul Haq explained.

That company has been shut down, but authorities said that others are using similar tactics.

"The most important this is if someone calls you out of the blue and asks for your personal information, hang up," Ul Haq explained.

The FTC and Better Business Bureau said that legitimate companies will not call unsolicited and request personal information.

Consumers who believe that they are being targeted by a scam can contact the FTC or the Better Business Bureau to file a complaint.

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