Scam alert: A warranty offer you should ignoreJun 28, 2022 11:13AM ● By Arthur Vidro
A letter arrived last month with no return address. But in its place, in the upper left-hand corner, were the words “Personal & Confidential.” Above the envelope window was the word “important” three times larger than anything else on the envelope—and underlined to boot. Below that, it read, “vehicle information.”
Right away I knew it was junk mail, and here’s how.
The return address of “Personal & Confidential” is useless. A return address is supposed to state who the mail is coming from. This one wasn’t saying, which means the sender doesn’t want you to know—at least not right away. Why not? Because if you knew who it was from, you would discard the scheming offer without bothering to read it.
But for the sake of this article, I opened the envelope. Inside was one sheet of paper alerting me to a price increase on a vehicle’s extended warranty. But by acting now, it said, I could lock in the existing lower rate before the price goes up. This artificially created urgency is another tactic of con artists.
The return address portion of the letter still made no mention of the company behind the mailing. It merely said, “Vehicle Services Department.” But in tiny type at the bottom—far tinier than the rest of the letter—did it state that this offer was from an entity called Simple Save Auto. Ever hear of them? Neither have I.
Their address didn’t even appear in the tiny type, but an internet search showed me that they did exist. They are in Missouri, and the postmark on the envelope contained a Missouri zip code.
Simple Save Auto is not a car manufacturer. It is not a car dealer. It is not a car finance firm. It is an independent company that exists solely to confuse you into extending your warranty through them, even though they have nothing to do with your warranty (if you have one), and your warranty isn’t necessarily expiring. In fact, they don’t know diddly squat about your warranty.
Nowhere in the letter did it mention what sort of vehicle the offer is for. Suppose you own more than one vehicle; which one are they talking about? They don’t know what cars you own. They don’t mention any VIN numbers, license plate numbers, or any information about year, make or model. They just want you to call them so their super-prepared sales force can try to sell you an extended warranty, even though they have no idea ahead of time what you drive, or even if you drive at all.
A casual look at the letter would make most people think it’s from their auto warranty company. Many folks, under this mistaken impression, call the 800 number provided and get the sales spiel. I’m not saying the folks answering the phone are liars, but they are skillful at obfuscating the truth. Unless you are persistent in asking, they will dodge the question of whether they are the company already providing the warranty on your vehicle. They have no idea what vehicles you own or don’t own. So don’t tell them.
Here’s a few rules of thumb for being a smart consumer when it comes to opening your mail.
• The larger the word IMPORTANT appears on an envelope, the more you can be certain it’s junk mail.
• Any mail arriving in a windowed envelope that contains no return address is junk mail.
• Any mail trying to sell you something but not specifying terms or even a hint of price is suspicious.
• Pretty much anything mailed via “standard” postage is far from urgent.
Similar guidelines apply to phone calls, too. I’ve gotten my share of calls from robots alerting me to the expiration of the current terms of a car warranty even though we don’t have a car warranty.
But those phone calls never address us by name (they don’t know who they’re calling), never specify what sort of vehicle they’re talking about (they have no idea what we drive), and never specify a price or length of contract. They don’t even identify what company they’re calling from.
Do not engage with such entities. Do not punch whatever button they want you to punch. If they leave a message, do not call them back.
If they don’t know who you are and what vehicle you own, they are scam artists fishing for information. Maybe they’ll sell you something that’s real, but their initial contact with you is an example of misrepresentation.