Minnesota Department Of Commerce Warning Homeowners Of New Scam Threat
It seems that every week there are new scams to warn consumers about. For example, this week, there was already a warning from the Better Business Bureau about a parking ticket scam.
Now, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is warning of a scam that is targeting homeowners in several states, including Minnesota. This scam in question centers around home warranties.
Specifically, the scam utilizes bogus warnings about home warranties. Homeowners are receiving letters in recent months urging recipients to purchase warranties and falsely implying a relationship with the homeowners’ mortgage companies or with county deeds offices.
The letters appear to be official documents, coming from company names like Home Warranty Direct or Home Warranty Solutions. They all use the same language describing warranties that, “may be expiring or may have already expired” even if you have never had a warranty. However, they are flat-out scams, likely originated by criminals outside the United States, aiming to collect your credit card or bank account information.
The Department of Commerce notes that promotions that use threatening language or unnecessary urgency are almost always fraudulent. In this case, the scam letters use bold type and exclamation points and urge recipients to respond immediately or risk financial liability. To appear legitimate, they also cite names of specific mortgage lenders or servicers. However, it's important to remember that information that is often public record and available online.
If you're a homeowner looking to purchase a legitimate home warranty from a trusted company, the Department of Commerce encourages you to do some research.
“We recommend asking for referrals, checking the warranty company’s website and understanding the coverage you need and possible warranty exclusions,” said Jacqueline Olson, Commerce’s Assistant Commissioner for Enforcement. “If you receive an unsolicited offer, definitely don’t give out your credit card or bank account information until you’re sure the offer is legitimate.”
A legitimate home warranty can be beneficial as it's a contract that covers repairs and replacements on systems and appliances in your home, usually for a period of one year.
Homeowners who receive a letter from Home Warranty Direct or Home Warranty Solutions are welcome to file a complaint by contacting the Department of Commerce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602. Otherwise, the letters can simply be thrown away. To report any type of suspected mail fraud, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.