Fire Extinguisher and Smoke Alarm Scams – Don’t Get Burned!

On September 11, 2015, the Star-Advertiser reported a warning from the Honolulu Fire Department about bogus calls offering to install home fire extinguishers.  According to Fire Department officials, no one from the Fire Department is authorized to make calls to offer or install fire extinguishers in homes.

Also be aware the Fire Department does not make calls to offer free smoke alarms to senior citizens.  Although the Fire Department participates in the American Red Cross campaign to provide free smoke alarms to homes where senior citizens live, interested persons must call the Red Cross, not the Fire Department, to ask for the smoke alarms.  (See LOOKING OUT FOR YOU: Be Safe from Fires and Scams 2015-11 at

The Senior Medicare Patrol alerts seniors to the possibility that scammers may use this free offer to get seniors to give out their Medicare numbers, supposedly to prove their age. Scammers use Medicare numbers like Social Security numbers to steal funds from bank, Medicare, and Social Security accounts.  The Red Cross will not ask for Medicare numbers or Social Security numbers.

Another danger is that thieves will say they are from the Red Cross or Fire Department to get seniors to let them into their home so they can look for valuables to steal. Fire Department personnel and Red Cross staff and volunteers must be in uniform and carry proper identification when installing the smoke alarms.

Guard your Medicare number! Report Medicare identity theft scams to the Hawaii Senior Medicare Patrol at (808) 586-7281 or 1-800-296-9422, or use the online contact form at