Instant Response Systems, a company based in Brooklyn, New York that allegedly intimidated, threatened and deceived many senior citizens to into purchasing its medical alert systems, has been temporarily shut down by the federal government at the request of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC’s complaint alleged that Instant Response: (1) made misrepresentations to induce payment for its goods and services; (2) made false or misleading statements to induce payment in connection with telemarketing; (3) threatened or intimidated seniors; (4) called consumers on the National Do Not Call Registry; and (5) mailed bills for unordered merchandise.
The FTC’s complaint alleged that Instant Response targeted seniors over 70 who lived alone, had limited or fixed incomes, and who often depended on others to manage their finances and health related decisions. The FTC accused Instant Response of sending letters and packages to consumers who did not order or agree to order their service. The letters claimed the seniors had purchased the service and owed money for it. One such letter included the following warning: “Unless you send what you owe and return, or pay for the equipment immediately, we have no choice but to consider the equipment as STOLEN. To pay for the stolen equipment, insurance companies require a police report be filed. (See enclosed copy of “STOLEN PROPERTY POLICE DEPARTMENT FORM” completed and ready to be filed.) This is your LAST chance to pay what you owe.”
The FTC alleged that on many occasions, Instant Response used threats and intimidation against consumers to coerce payment for its medical alert service, claiming the consumers received the company’s medical alert pendants without paying for them and threatened legal action if they did not pay up immediately. The FTC also alleged that many of the calls were verbally abusive. When consumers tried to reach the company to dispute charges or get instructions on how to return unordered and unopened packages, they were not able to reach anyone and if they did, representatives renewed false accusations and admonished consumers to pay immediately or face legal action.
Based on this alleged conduct, the FTC charged the company and its principles. The defendants charged in the case were Instant Response Systems, LLC, also doing business as Response Systems, B.B. Mercantile, Ltd., Medical Alert Industrial, and Medical Alert Services; and Jason Abraham, also known as Yaakov Abraham, individually and as an officer of Instant Response Systems. Abraham was previously sued by the FTC in 2003 for selling international “drivers’ licenses” and phony university diplomas.