Monday, November 21, 2011
Beware of Car Warranty Scam
Late last week, I've received two rather official looking notices. Notice #1 mailed from St. Louis, MO from "Vehicle Protection of America Automobile Coverage Headquarters". The company knew year, make, and model of our vehicle and had a lot of official looking prints. It mentioned that our "factory warranty is expiring or has expired, based on year and mileage" and offered to extend coverage. At the bottom of the notice there was an official looking seal from American Consumer Council saying Consumer Aware Winner 2011-2012.
Given that we never had a factory warranty (we bought a used vehicle and purchase a warranty that has not expired), I thought the notice strange, but possibly mistaken. I put it in a pile of things I need to follow up on. I figured that I would call the company that provides our car warranty to see what was happening.
I had not yet figured out I was looking at a scam, and I'm fairly good at sniffing out a scam. One thing I always, always recommend when you receive a notice, either via snail mail or email: do not respond directly to the notice (and never though an email link), but call the company that you deal with directly. In this case, I would pull my warranty and call the company with my name and account number, not respond to the notice.
Today, another notice marked "2nd Attempt came", only days apart. This one from a company "CarSafe", also bulk mailed from St. Louis, MO. This notice was a bit different. It also looked official. The format was nearly undistiguishable. The codes, however, had different names and numbers. The "Urgent and Time Sensitive" "2nd Attempt" notice from CarSafe, the second company, offered a Platinum plan. Vehicle Protection of America offered a Gold Coverage Offer.
Each notice had a second phone number. The CarSafe notice I quickly flagged as a scam as it requested "Please have your mileage and VIN # ready so we may better assist you."
A search of Vehicle Protection of America" and "scam" didn't turn up anything useful. A search of "CarSafe" and "scam" turned up results. As per this Washington Post column, St. Louis is home to car warranty scams and 10 companies are being sued by the state AG.
Be warned and for those who have family and neighbors, particularly elderly family and friends, make sure they are forewarned. I have a good eye for scams and this one has a nice costume.
One last clue that something is terribly wrong: My name was misspelled and I am not the primary name on our auto, my husband is. If they were working with the manufacturer or our warranty company, they wouldn't be sending me mail.