©12 The Media Desk
The only reason this article exists is to ask a rhetorical question:
"If it Looks like a scam, If it Smells like a scam, If it Feels like a Scam, and if entities like a State Commissioner of Insurance call it a Crime, and the Better Business Bureau have a collection of complaints about it.... Is it a scam?"
The only reason the "National Reply Center" exists is to collect and verify information about Americans who are at or near the age where they'll retire, be eligible for Social Security, and/or Medicare. In various incarnations the same postcard has advertised prescription drug coverage, health insurance products, and as below, life insurance.
They themselves do not sell any insurance product although that is exactly what they are advertising. As you can see NO insurance company is listed on the business reply postcard or envelope that we opened the discussion with.
There is no information about the entity that calls itself by that name anywhere on the web EXCEPT for various complaints to various and sundry agencies, such as the BBB, and the occasional "cease and desist" order, as quoted below.
There is a lot of information about things like the National Response Center for the US Government to deal with emergency situations like natural, or man-made, disasters. There is a version called 'relay center' for call centers running a VoIP solution for centralized call taking. And so on, but NOTHING, for the 'reply center'.
Which is rather unusual. What if the Desk wanted to contract with them to mail out a card for people who wanted to buy a book or five? What if instead it was looking for a job processing the replies or sorting out the ones that forgot to sign it or put in the wrong ZIP code? What if it were the Attorney General looking to ask them if they were licensed to sell insurance in this state? Oh well.
And now somebody has asked, "How this is not Mail Fraud."
The answer is simple. The mysterious National Reply Center is not directly SELLING anything. They ask for no payment, they don't even tell you how much their product costs. So no 'fraud' is taking place.
They are simply finding out if you are interested in hearing from the, as yet unnamed, companies they are collecting the information for.
So while in the end there may be a real world company selling actual insurance products through agents that are fully licensed and bonded in this state... Most likely if you sent back the card you would have established that murky "business relationship" with whoever the 'reply center' is shilling for and end up buried under a mountain of junk mail and find your phone ringing off the hook from the telemarketers because YOU filled out the card, signed it, and sent it back. Thereby authorizing them to hound you, and your spouse, half to death from now until the end of time by mail, by phone, and perhaps even in person as they have your home address and you DID sign the card!
In short, if you get one of these in ANY state, RECYCLE it, trash it, let your gerbil chew it up, whatever, just DO NOT fill it out with anything like real information and send it back to them.
Or, if you're the Desk... you scan it and run a SCAM SPAM article.
Information, images, and links below.
The Order as mentioned
State of Wisconsin
The Commissioner of Insurance - http://oci.wi.gov/
National Reply CenterAnd just because we can...
P.O. Box 1638, Meridian, MS 39302-9905
Was ordered to cease and desist from sending direct mail advertisements to Medicare beneficiaries in Wisconsin until the advertisement is filed with the Commissioner according to law, and to reply promptly and provide all information requested to inquiries from the Commissioner. This action was based on allegations of using Medicare supplement insurance advertising not in compliance with the law. June 2006
The Post Office's role in it:
"U.S. Postal Inspectors investigate any crime in which the U.S. Mail is used to further a scheme--whether it originated in the mail, by telephone, or on the Internet. The use of the U.S. Mail is what makes it mail fraud."https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov
FRAUD.org has a section devoted to protecting Senior Citizens: http://www.fraud.org/
EVERY State's Attorney General, and Insurance Commissioner's offices have information pages similar to the one listed for Wisconsin, you can go to your state or province's webpage and check it out.
This one just happens to be for the AG from Delaware, who, it just so happens, the Desk forwarded the postcard to:
An Orange Flavored version of essentially the same thing: The Great Orange Juice Telemarketing SCAM
The Desk's clearinghouse page for all of this sort of crap. http://www.themediadesk.com/files/urban.htm
Back to the Desk main page at: