Beware of False 911 Scam

El Paso Fire Department Officials want to warn the citizens of El Paso about a 911 Scam coming out of San Antonio, Texas. El Paso Fire Officials are NOT requiring El Paso residents to purchase any kind of Emergency Medical Cards and want to warn the public to prevent them from falling victim to this scam. The Department would like to share the following article that details what could happen to you.

Scam claims $300 card could save your life
Web Posted: 07/19/2006 08:30 PM CDT
Aïssatou Sidimé
Express-News Business Writer

A new phone scam claims that San Antonio residents must buy a $300 card to guarantee them fire and ambulance service in an emergency. It comes with the added - and bogus - promise that city emergency workers will have access to the cardholder's medical history, according to the Texas Attorney General. San Antonio resident Cynthia McPherson nearly fell for it. The scammer's phone call came last week. A male caller who said he was from EMT Alert Inc. said San Antonio would soon require her to buy a $300 card so first responders would know her family's special medical needs. He offered to complete the purchase over the phone if she would give him her bank account number. Wasn't her life worth more than $300 he asked? It was tempting: McPherson's husband is taking five medications since a heart attack. Her mother is ill and several grandchildren have medical allergies. A lack of free cash kept her from signing up and becoming a victim of the latest phone scam to hit San Antonio.

"I probably would have been suckered," said the school bus driver, who asked that her maiden name be used to protect her identity. "It made sense that if emergency services had all that info, they would be able to treat us better."

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a statewide alert Tuesday warning consumers about the scam.

"We are obviously looking into it and are very concerned by the suggestion that this card is something that will be required when that is clearly not the case," said Paco Felici, spokesman for the attorney general.

EMT Alert Customer Service Manager Katy Miller said she is investigating the complaint because the Phoenix-area company's product is not mandatory in any Texas City.

"If we caught anyone saying that, they would not have a job here," Miller said Wednesday by phone from the company's Gilbert, Ariz., call center.

The city of San Antonio does not - and will not - require residents to pay for emergency services, said Randy Jenkins, district fire chief of the San Antonio Fire Department. Plus, the city's first responders do not check medical databases when treating people in emergencies because privacy laws require patients to give written consent before the records can be accessed.

"This company is not recognized by the city of San Antonio, and its card is not recognized by the city," Jenkins said.

Instead, Jenkins said, residents can boost their chances of getting proper medical treatment when calling 911 by listing all medical conditions and prescriptions for family members on a sheet labeled "Medical File or "File of Life." The file should be posted on the refrigerator.

EMT Alert Inc. sells a medical identity card, a monitoring necklace that a customer can depress to get help and an online medical file for a $399.97 set-up fee and $19.95 each month. The Better Business Bureau of Phoenix's Web site shows that the company has an "unsatisfactory record" due to unresolved complaints. So far, McPherson is the first Texan to complain to local officials about the company, said Felici, the attorney general spokesman.