Allegations of Heart Monitoring Fraud in Chicago show Sales by Phone and Internet Subject to Increasing Regulation

A Tinley Park-based healthcare company is being sued by the Illinois Attorney General's Office, which claims it pressured consumers into buying expensive, and perhaps needless, body scans.

Obviously any suit filed by the state must be taken seriously. As the healthcare system continues to fracture and become more specialized, and as the introduction of technology continues to make procedures more complex, such companies must seek the legal advice necessary to stay on the right side of the law -- and must aggressively defend themselves from unwarranted allegations. Finding small business legal help in Chicago or hiring an attorney with the knowledge and experience to help ensure you are in compliance with laws and regulations governing product safety and liability, is essential to a young company's growth and viability.

Frankly, paying for expensive and perhaps unnecessary medical scans sounds like routine medical care! Perhaps we are being facetious, but you see how quickly that line begins to blur. Whether it's by telephone or over the Internet, rules and regulations govern the sale of goods and services to the public. In some cases -- such as medical or legal services -- other legal or ethical rules may apply.

The lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court accuses Heart Check America of using unfair and deceptive business practices to pressure consumers into buying 10-year screening contracts. The lawsuit contends consumers were not evaluated by medical providers and claims that the procedures could detect cancer or other diseases were false or misleading. It also claims consumers may have been exposed to risks, such as radiation exposure or false positives and that the company solicited from people on the National Do Not Call Registry.

Heart Check America had local offices in Arlington Heights and Tinley Park. The suit seeks civil penalties of $50,000, which could double if there is evidence of intent to defraud. The state is also seeking to recover the costs of investigating and prosecuting the case.

Illinois AG Lisa Madigan is also focusing on Internet scams. Internet sales in general are subject to an increasing number of complex state and federal laws, as illustrated by the recent passage of the sales tax in Illinois. Companies that do business online must stay abreast of new rules and regulations in the various states in which they operate. Madigan said she is particularly concerned about seniors.

"The Internet provides us with amazing opportunities, but unfortunately it also provides criminals with the opportunity and powerful means to deceive and defraud," Attorney General Madigan said. "It's important that we help seniors equip themselves with the tools needed to recognize online scams, deal safely with insecure websites and avoid other potential pitfalls online."

Jeremy A. Gibson & Associates is a law firm dedicated to business litigation in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois. Call 877-452-4529 for a free consultation.