Buying a house is a really good way to attract the attention of sleazy businesses. We’ve had about a dozen offers of mortgage protection insurance. It’s not the service which is sleazy, it’s the way they offer it:
- The envelope has a message saying something like “Urgent information about your mortgage”.
- The name of the company we arranged our mortgage through is displayed in bold on the envelope, and usually in large bold print on the letter inside, to make it look as if it’s from them.
- The name of the company actually offering the insurance is usually not mentioned anywhere, except as the first line of the address on the reply-paid envelope.
- The letter is often from Delaware or North Carolina, states infamous for their lax regulation of financial services.
- The letter inside orders me to fill it out, as if it’s something I have to do to keep the mortgage.
For example, this afternoon’s sleazebag letter starts out like this:
Attention: Important Notice
Complete and Return
RE: MORTGAGE TIME SENSITIVE
[Name of actual mortgage company]
It goes on to say that the offer “terminates in 13 months after the close of escrow”—with an asterisk leading to a footnote in 6 point type saying that in fact, the insurance “may be purchased by homeowner at a later date”, though they may require a medical.
This particular solicitation manages to avoid revealing who it’s from at all—the reply paid envelope lists the “Mortgage Protection Center” at an anonymous PO box, and the letter just says that the letter is from “independent life and disability agents representing multiple A and A+ carriers offering specialized mortgage protection products”.
I’m sure they get plenty of business this way, but it doesn’t exactly make me want to send them my Social Security Number…