HomeTechnologyMedical alarm supplier gives privacy reassurance

Medical alarm supplier gives privacy reassurance

Users of emergency medical alarm pendants are worried about their privacy after calls from unknown numbers were made to the devices.

The pendants, usually worn around the owner’s neck, are used to contact emergency care or family members in the case of a medical mishap or fall.

Dianne Leitch was sitting in her lounge room when she said she heard a voice from the pendant in what she believed was a scam call to the device.

She told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Breakfast program she had been using the pendant for a few years and it had never happened before.

“All of a sudden this voice came across and spoke to me,” Ms Leitch said.

“I was horrified because it was a complete invasion.”

A pink medical alert pendant with a silver SOS button and a black strap sitting on a red table top.
The devices can be used to contact emergency care or family members. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jack McKay)

Margaret Everingham, another listener, said she had a similar experience when a call came through on her pendant while she was on her home phone at the same time to a government department.

She is concerned the caller on the pendant overheard the personal information she was providing to the government department on the phone.

“It [the pendant] just automatically answers, and I was giving out personal information to this government department, as to my name, and date of birth, etcetera,” Ms Everingham said.

“By the time I took it off and went into the bedroom and got rid of it [the pendant], I don’t know how much of my personal information they got.”

‘They don’t know who you are’

Emergency Medical Services sells the safeTwear medical alert pendant.

Operations manager Victoria Francis commended listeners for being on guard as she sought to reassure customers that they should not be concerned.

“They [unknown callers] don’t know who you are. They don’t have any access to your information,” she said.

“They will not be able to get any personal information from you by pressing a button to end the call. It is the same as hanging up the phone.

“They are just randomly calling numbers and hoping to catch people out.”

A mobile phone lit up on a table next to someone using a laptop. 
Victoria Francis says the pendants have similar functions to a mobile phone. (ABC News: Brant Cumming)

Ms Francis said the devices were like mini mobile phones, with a sim card, phone number, speaker, and microphone.

“If someone dials the wrong number, it will actually go through to the alarm and, in those cases, most of the time people are like, ‘I’m terribly sorry’, and you move on,” she said.

“The only other issue is typically an overseas call centre or a rogue call centre where they’re just making automated dialling to random numbers. That can occur.

“We just tell our customers to say loudly and clear, ‘This is my medical alarm, take me off your list, do not call me again’, and then press the button to hang up the call.”

2020 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
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