Have You Received an Auto Warranty Expired Phone Call? It's a Scam!
Did you receive a call telling you that your car warranty has expired and you need to renew it? Scammers are not just busy on the internet, they are burning up the phone lines in attempts to scam people. See below for a consumer report of calls of this type. But there is good news: The Federal Trade Commission is asking a federal court to shut down a telemarketing campaign ( Voice Touch, Inc. ) that has been bombarding U.S. consumers with hundreds of millions of allegedly deceptive “robocalls” in an effort to sell them vehicle service contracts under the guise that they are extensions of original vehicle warranties.
You receive a call, with a recording telling you that your "auto warranty may be about to expire" and to "renew now before it is too late". You may not even own a car, or the warranty may have expired years before, or have years left before it expires.
A typical message sounds like this:
In most cases, the callers can not even tell you the make, model, or year of your car, so it is clearly a scam.
What to do?
Before you tell them ANYTHING, ask them: "OK, YOU say my warranty has expired? How do you know? Prove it by telling me the make, model and year of my vehicle"
Odds are good that the caller will simply hang up then.
You can report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP or 1-877-382-4357.
We wish to extend a huge "thanks" to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz for putting a stop to these calls and the jerks behind them!
Why is it a scam?
What makes the calls more than annoying is the scam nature: If people call back and agree to buy policies, the companies often don't let them see the contracts until they agree to pay. And some scam victims won't learn until it's too late that the policies don't cover many common types of repairs. In effect, the policies are worthless.
There appear to be a couple of scams using this approach:
Who is behind the scam and what is being done about it?
June 16, 2009: Fox News is reporting that there there are three companies; Transcontinental Warranty, Voice Touch and Network Foundations behind the scam. The scammers behind this deplorable act are alleged to be:
May 18, 2009: Here's the latest: the federal government, lead by Senator Charles Schumer, are suing one of the major companies behind this despicable scam! Meanwhile, the FTC has sued the scum behind these calls. These bozos made the mistake of harassing the senator and other congressmen with the same annoying calls that the rest of us receive!.
May 14, 2009: The FTC has filed an injunction in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division against a major robo-calling company:
The FTC's complaint alleges violations under the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule by calling consumers who were listed on the national "Do Not Call" registry. It also claims other deceptive practices, including concealing their phone number, failing to identify themselves to consumers and failing to disclose the call was a sales pitch.
"Scum" is too kind a word to describe the actions and behaviors that these companies and individuals are accused of. Some of the defendants used offshore shell corporations to try to avoid scrutiny, and a top officer in the telemarketing company bragged to prospective clients that he could operate outside the law without any chance of being caught by the FTC, the papers filed in court stated. According to the FTC, this defendant also claimed that he makes 1.8 million dials per day and that he had done more than $40 million worth of dialing for extended warranty companies, including one billion dials on behalf of his largest client.
More information and follow up
See these pages for the details of the FTC's actions:
The Wall Street Journal has an article about this scam, as does Fox News. According to Fox News, "Missouri authorities filed a lawsuit last month against one of the largest car-warranty companies, Wentzville, Mo.-based USfidelis Inc., charging that company officials ignored a subpoena demanding that they answer questions about their business." The article says that USfidelis says they stopped making unsolicited marketing calls last year and now relies mostly on television advertising.
There are also angry consumers who are striking back against the persons believed to be behind one of these scams (although, it is not a company accused by the FTC). If you'd like to read about what they are doing, and find what they claim is the phone numbers and addresses of the owners of these companies, see this page on Reddit.com
See the following reports from consumers and see this page for a 2009 report.
Information About Specific Phone numbers
There are several websites that focus on reports of scam phone calls. See these:
There are a number of common telephone scams, such as:
and some new and as yet, uncommon scams.
Automobile Extended Warranty Scam Tips and Warning Signs:
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, click here or call 1-877-382-4357. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
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