On a weekly or even daily basis, you might be receiving physical mail alerting you that your car warranty is about to expire. You may also be receiving calls telling you to renew your car’s warranty. You think it might be a scam, but can you be sure? A Florida Business Law attorney can help.
Auto warranty services scam
A common situation is as follows: You recently buy a car, maybe even a used car. Then, you start receiving notices via mail that urge you to renew the car warranty. Even if you have not recently purchased a car, you might still be receiving these notices. However, the mailings do not say who they are from, as they often have no response address.
This is actually a common practice, where scammers dressed as legitimate companies offer you auto warranty. Using frightening language regarding your failure to respond, they make it seem as though you need to renew your warranty immediately. In reality, these companies that reach out to you are individual businesses wanting to sell you service contracts, requesting your personal financial information and down payments before actually completing any part of the contract.
Looking at the notice itself, your address is probably at the top of the letter, but there is usually no return address or name of the entity that sent the letter. Rather, the notice usually just says that the letter is “Personal & Confidential” and an “Important Notice.” Other times, the notice is labeled “Motor Vehicle Service Notification,” “Final Warranty Notice,” or “Notice of Interruption.” Some letters might specify that they are from the “Vehicle Services Department,” “Drivers Protection,” the “United Service Protection, Inc.,” “Wesco Insurance Company,” or “Warranty Services-Vehicle Division,” and that your information was obtained from your “consumer data” or “public record consumer auto data file.”
Requesting an “immediate response,” the letter then outlines how your warranty is about to expire, that it already expired, or that your vehicle has no warranty. It might also refer to this warranty as a “vehicle service contract,” “factory warranty,” or “vehicle protection in order to ensure its continued safe operation.” Furthermore, it asks that you activate the service contract for your vehicle “before it’s too late” and usually sets a deadline for when the supposed warranty will expire. The notice might reference a correct or incorrect license plate number.
Auto warranty services call
The scammers also usually include language that if you do not take action soon, something bad is going to happen. For example, some notices say that they will “recategorize your vehicle in our system with a new status of: High-Risk potential ‘Pre-Existing’ conditions with mechanical or electrical issues on vehicle,” which might lead to increased costs or out of pocket repair payments.
The letter may also include a summary of terms, a coverage explanation, and contact information such as a toll-free number. If you were to actually seek this coverage, it is usually for far less than normal, protecting only certain aspects of the vehicle. In reality, the contracts are not warranties, but are contracts to pay for repairs. Thus, you really do not even need a service contract, and if you do, you should seek one offered by the carmaker.
In providing the legitimate year and make of your car, and looking like an official document with bar codes and ID numbers, these scams make you truly believe that you need what they are offering you. Some letters might even have official notices from the Department of Motor Vehicles
You should always first call your car dealer, check your owner’s manual, or contact the vehicle manufacturer to determine if your warranty has indeed expired. Do not call the number that is listed on the letter or postcard. You can also look up the company with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or the attorney general’s office. You can also reference local consumer protection agencies or the state insurance commission.
If you do fall prey to one of these scams, you can reach out to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and file a complaint. The FTC and the BBB both issue refunds. A Miami Business Law attorney can help throughout this process.