odd time signatures

Scam Alert: Automotive Warranty Advisors

This is the second notice we’ve received in the mail from these people. A couple of observations before I give details: a) There is no return address; only a telephone number; and b) There is no reference to which vehicle we should be considering a warranty for. Still, it looks pretty official, doesn’t it?

It took me awhile to track this down — Internet resources aren’t all that plentiful on these, but I did find some. There is a website for these people which consists of 2 pages: A home page which claims to have “Senior Warranty Consultants” to custom-design an aftermarket auto warranty for your needs, and a phone number.  The second page is a “contact us” page with the same phone number that’s on the home page.

A WhoIs query indicates that the business is located in Florida, but all contact information goes back to Premier Home Mortgage Corp. in Missouri, servers located in South Carolina (Nuvox Communications).

That’s the extent of what’s available online.

When we received the first notice, I assumed they were referring to the Prius, since our other car has nearly 200,000 miles on it.  But our Prius has an extended warranty out to 100,000 miles.  The language in this notice is loaded — here are some quotes intended to grab your attention:

This is your final warranty notice to extend or reinstate your warranty coverage

Sounds pretty official, doesn’t it?  Like maybe something isn’t right with our current coverage and it’s expiring?  Of course, as a throwaway they say that if you extended your warranty at the time of purchase, disregard, but they’re sending this out to everyone anyway.

It goes on with this:

The importance of having warranty protection is at an all time high.  If you have not extended your warranty yet, you must call (toll free) 1-800-xxx-xxxx on or before the deadline date.

This is an example of deceptive, covert marketing at its worst. It is a trap intended to force you to turn over your credit card and/or personal information on the phone.

WTOC TV in Savannah Georgia has a report on their website (their report concerns telemarketing, but I believe there are California restrictions on unsolicited telemarketers that would necessitate a different point of contact):

Two days ago, one telemarketer caught her attention, trying to sell her a new $1,600 warranty for her red 1999 Chrysler Town and Country van, which has 60,000 miles on it.

“They gave me this spiel about my car being out of warranty. You need this,” Sandra said. “If you need repairs, it will cost you money.”

Then the red flags started flying. They wanted her credit card and bank account numbers right then and there.

“There is no way I was giving my credit card over the phone,” Sandra said. “If I’m not giving credit, I’m certainly not giving my bank account number. She said, ‘We have to do this today.’ Okay. Red flag. You know this is illegitimate.”

“It’s just the most popular thing in cons,” Better Business Bureau president Ross Howard told WTOC.

Howard calls this type of scam spoofing. He says its object is to scare a customer into giving up personal info.

“Truth of the matter is, there are not many companies that will give you a warranty for cars with high mileage that is older,” Howard said. “They just want her money. That’s all it is.”

I did a search on the company at the Better Business Bureau website and got the following results:

The Bureau processed a total of 50 complaints about this company since the firm’s BBB file was opened in June of 2005. Of the total 50 complaints since the firm’s BBB file was opened in June of 2005, 47 of those were closed in the last 12 months

Several of those complaints were related to aggressive advertising, but many more were related to refund or exchange issues — nearly half. Despite this, the BBB gives it a “Satisfactory” record.

What troubles me the most about this covert, deceptive effort to get our personal information is that there are ties back to mortgage banking, whether direct or indirect. The BBB information lists a Sr. Vice President and Customer Service Manager as the company management – no President is listed.

So, assuming I were crazy enough to actually call this number, which I’m not and which I’m writing this to urge anyone reading this not to do, who would I really be giving my information to and why? Is the ultimate goal to engage them in some sort of mortgage marketing and/or scamming? (See this 2007 BBB warning about the proliferation of Advance fee Loan Scams).

The tipoffs that this was something other than what they claim to be?

  1. No notice that the card they mailed was an advertisement
  2. No mailing address on their correspondence
  3. An incomplete website with no explanation of their product
  4. The loaded language intended to make me believe I was somehow being irresponsible if I did not contact them immediately
  5. No association with Toyota, the dealer we purchased the car from, or the warranty currently covering the car

Beware of email, telephone calls and mail like this, and whatever you do, DON’T give your personal information to them, no matter how much you are pressured to do so.

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