CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) – People are finding pink letters demanding personal information in their mailboxes across the country. After one Champaign County woman’s family member received one, she wants to warn others not to fall for the scam.
The Better Business Bureau is tracking numerous similar reports of home warranty scams. So, WCIA reached out to the group behind the letters – “Home Warranty Services.” What we learned is they’re not quick to answer any questions unless you give them personal information in return.
“The red flag for me was ‘final notice,'” one woman said.
It’s in bold print at the top of a letter she says is riddled with warning signs.
“It just really upset me because a lot of people don’t know how to look for those signs,” she said.
Like a generic company name, the urgency in the language, or the fine print at the bottom of the page. They’re all things the Better Business Bureau says to look out for. WCIA spoke with a woman who asked us not to share her name, but says she was concerned after a family member got one of these letters – and she wants to alert the public against a scam older individuals could easily fall victim to.
“To think that somebody could scam them out of something that they desperately need – like money to go to the hospital or something – is just so sick and wrong,” the woman said.
The Better Business Bureau publishes scam reports they’ve investigated and verified. Some mention Home Warranty Services by name – the very company listed at the top of the pink letters – which tell recipients to “call immediately” and verify personal information to get their home warranties “up to date.”
“You can’t give them an inch because they’ll take a mile. They’ll take your bank account with a phone number these days,” she said.
WCIA called the phone number listed in the letter asking what information needed to be verified and why. A man on the other line who identified himself as Tom with Home Warranty Services said he couldn’t help if we didn’t provide a customer ID number. But we kept asking questions, like why nothing came up upon searching the company name online. He said: “That’s understandable. I’m not sure why you’re calling.”
We identified ourselves as reporters and asked: “is this legitimate?”
Tom responded with: “I’m just trying to help you out. But I don’t think that’s going to work. Let me try this.”
He put us on hold for about a minute before hanging up. Our subsequent calls were declined.
The fine print at the bottom of the letter says: “We are not affiliated with your current mortgage holder.” The Better Business Bureau says those who don’t catch that detail might be worried their mortgage is at risk, leading them to hand over personal information or money to companies that employ “deceptive advertising tactics.” You can find more information on avoiding this kind of scam here.