AARP’s Bulletin Today published an interesting Scam Alert which covers shady tactics used by some reverse mortgage lead providers. In Reverse Mortgage Seduction, writer Sid Kirchheimer details how companies are deceptively marketing reverse mortgages as an official government offering to retirees.
The article describes a postcard from National Data Research that promises the chance to pay off existing mortgages and credit card debt, make home repairs and renovations, even the ability to “enhance your lifestyle” with a reverse mortgage. After all, the card notes, “It is your Legal Right as a United States Taxpayer to receive all the Information available to you.”
What is not disclosed anywhere on the post card is its real purpose: to collect your contact information so it can be sold to vendors of reverse mortgages. And from there, it could be sold to other salesmen, resulting in unwanted mail and telephone solicitations.
Kirchheimer continues to explain that National Data Research is actually Acc-U-Lead, a Texas based reverse mortgage lead provider who earlier this decade was fined $200,000 by federal officials and ordered to cease similar mailings. “By falsely promising additional Social Security payments, the anonymous mailings tricked [citizens] into parting with coveted personal information,” according to a report from the Social Security Administration.
The report noted that one company sharing the Acc-U-Lead address was United States Senior Services, the same name used in another Acc-U-Lead mailing that triggered a cease-and-desist order by the Oregon insurance commissioner for illegally hawking insurance to older people.
The article details other actions taken against Acc-U-Lead’s owner for misleading older property owners by illegally offering an “elderly tax freeze” for a fee—again, using “misleading correspondence that appeared to be official government business.” In that ruse, Acc-U-Lead’s mailings were sent by the “State and County Tax Redemption Center” and generated some 1,600 consumer complaints in one Texas county before a restraining order was issued against him.
As much as I hate that this is actually happening, I’ve got to give AARP some credit for doing all the research and making the public more aware of deceptive practices. To read more about the investigation into Acc-U-Lead’s business, click the link below.