Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Watch Out for Low-Flying Hokum

It amazes me what all flies out of the woodwork - or more specifically, the mailbox - these days. Some of it just being annoying and some skirting the edge of legality, but not quite tipping over into the sludge trough of scam.

For instance, I received this rather frantic notification this past week:


Unfortunately, we've been unable to contact you. Please contact us within the next 72 hours...Or what?
We'll die of dysentery or something else that has infiltrated our water supply that must be immediately attended to?

My wife's reaction was of the what now category? "They put a new meter in last year," she said, assuming this came from our water supplier

Then she flipped the card over.

"AWP? Who's AWP, that's not our water company."

Indeed it is not. It turns out this was just a ploy by some company that sells water filters. The idea is to hit you with such a feeling of urgency that you snatch up the phone and then once you contact them to rope you in on their product. By the way, a lot of complaints on line about this company regarding both this yellow postcard, the quality of their service and the overpriced product they sell. Perhaps they also hope this falls into the mailbox of some senior citizen, which it did, who either had very poor eyesight or borders on dementia and will make a quick and panicked call to the number provided even sooner than 72 hours.

Besides the fact this was not our water provider, there was another tell-tale clue. It was addressed to me by name, but immediately beneath it said, "Or Current Resident". Obviously they are fishing off of some public listing of residents of this community.

I really dislike these type of things. Over the years I have received many an envelope appearing to be some official government agency, perhaps even the dreaded IRS, which cause my heart to skip a beat in fear of what horror lies within. I rapidly rip said official looking envelope open only to find some lame advertisement. Such disguised come-ons should be forbidden.

Just yesterday a piece landed here addressed to my son. It looked somewhat officious, had 2015 in bold letters up at the top and through the address window you could read "Pay to the order of" and my son's name. I thought perhaps it was his tax return somehow sent here and was relieved when my son stopped by that day and I could hand it to him. It was not a refund. It was a come-on from some car dealer. Bah, humbug!

We recently refinanced our humble abode to get a lower rate and payment. This has brought a flood of disguised mail offering even better deals.

Every week I get a piece identical to this on the right. It is addressed to me and above my name is the name of my mortgage bank. The return address is ambiguous at best. It could easily be an operations department for my bank. It has large red letters saying, "Mortgage Payment Information". It certainly got my attention...the first time. The half dozen I've received since not so much.

It wasn't from my Mortgage Bank at a-tall, a-tall, although on first blush that is not so apparent in the letter this envelope contained. It is offering a bi-weekly payment scheme guaranteed to lower the cost of my mortgage over its life; in fact, shave several years off the term and save me oodles of dollars paid in interest. It could be something offered by my bank. I have had such a payment schedule in the past with a lender. However, in this case it isn't from my lender and I checked and my lender doesn't even offer such an option. My lender warns on their website that third-parties might send such offers and to beware.

Actually, if you go down to the bottom of the offer you will find a statement that it "is not affiliated, connected, or associated with, sponsored or approved by the lender listed above".  But I'm sure they hope you don't read that far, that you are dazzled by the savings highlighted and you will jump on the phone and sign up...and then probably be hit with a bunch of fees.

Then there are these insurance deals.  One comes, another very officious looking one, that upon
reading gives the impression of coming from the FHA offering to reduce the monthly MIP Insurance payment on the loan. It isn't from the FHA, of course, and in actually, I don't have such a monthly payment on my loan.

Note all the urgency, "Dated Document Open Immediately and Verify", and rather than a company name and address in the heading it simply says, "Administrative Office", implying the administration office of the FHA.

We've been "identified as eligible" and "it is important" we contact them.

Yeah, right.

I am also receiving almost daily these Mortgage Insurance letters. Whether they are on the up and up I do not know, but given my age, I can imagine what the monthly premium would be. It would probably wipe out any gains I made by refinancing.

This one is also offering a long term care plan at no additional cost.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it.

Well, you know what they say about that.

Now here is another little do-dad that is beginning to irk me. I seem to receive these offers about every third day. They come from a company whose ads are on TV a lot, in which the Chairman of the
Board, comes on and tells how much this company cares about veterans, because the Chairman himself was a retired Naval officer.

Fine and dandy, but one thing bothers me in this. The spiel is that Veterans are entitled to receive home mortgages at 100% of their home's value. This sounds good, perhaps, on the surface, but isn't this where the housing industry got into the situation that burst the bubble a few years back? It can be a risky situation to borrow at 100% of your homes' value.

At any rate, good deal or bad, why is this constantly coming my way? I'm not a veteran. How did I get on their mailing list as such and why in the world do they mail out so many of these solicitations?

Are they trying to burn out my shredder?

I might sound upset by all these junk mail deceptions and schemes, but I really aren't. These things just go from mailbox to shredder. Doesn't take much of my time, but I feel I am doing my patriotic duty because all this junk mail is probably the only thing keeping the U. S. Postal Service afloat.


slugmama said...

We must be on the same mailing list and of a certain age now to get all this sort of stuff.
I am amazed that more seniors don't get scammed with all these "offers" targeting them.
The new one for us is offers to check our hearing from hearing aid hawkers.
We also get a lot of "offers" for "free meals" to come hear/see investment pros talks(so they can get their hands on "managing" our money no doubt!
What's next? Alex Trabeck offering me "final expense" insurance plans?

Ron said...

Another good (and funny) post. Everyday we are bombarded with this 'sort of stuff", attempting to part us with what little we have left after taxes and bill. There is a whole industry out there whose sole purpose is to fool us old people into thinking they are there to help up when in reality they only want to take what little we have left. When I get this stuff in the mail I often wonder "what do old people do who are confused?" And that I think is the reason they send it, because they know there is a certain segment of the older population that will believe their lies and misstatements and false leads. One always has to be on guard. And, by the way, I no longer give not even ONE DOLLAR to all those DAV's, St. Judes, at all those other charities that sends us address labels. After hearing what you went though with your parent's estate I learned my lesson.