"Funeral Advantage Program Assists Seniors" "2013 Death Benefit And Free Wal-Mart Gift Certificate" Say Misleading Letters
LABELLE, FL. -- In the mail this week tens of thousands of people aged 50 and over have received a folded post card type advertisement that misleadingly looks like a check or a government mailing.
Using a flying "dove" that looks like strikingly like an eagle, and type face that looks like an official document, the mailing is titled "Funeral Advantage Program Assists Seniors", with a state abbreviation on the right.
The mailing is from National Reply Center, who gathers information from seniors and sells it to insurance companies who then contact the recipients. The company makes mailings to many states and has received complaints nationwide for it's misleading business practices.
The sales pitch alludes to a program "created to help pay for one's funeral and any other expenses." Mailed from Columbus, Ohio, the postage-paid reply postcard is sent to National Reply Center, Indianapolis, Indiana. (The offer may also be for Medicare Supplemental Insurance or drug coverage.)
The message says the recipient "may qualify for the Funeral Advantage Program that will pay your family in the event of your death an insurance cash benefit up to $20,000 TAX FREE."
Your are asked your date of birth and phone number. Guess what? You're going to get a phone solicitation to sell you insurance at higher than normal rates.
The company doesn't directly sell insurance but uses this advertising format to collect information and sells it to other companies who will then offer life insurance, death benefit insurance, and Medicare supplemental insurance pitches to the consumer who sends in the card.
National Reply Center of Indianapolis has received an F rating from the Indianapolis Better Business Bureau on October 20, 2011. The BBB says the company failed to respond to a complaint about it's advertising and sales techniques.
State insurance regulators have ordered the company to cease and desist including the state of Wisconsin who ordered them to cease and desist from sending direct mail advertisements to Medicare beneficiaries in Wisconsin until "the advertisement is filed with the Commissioner" and to "reply promptly and provide all information requested to inquiries." This action was based on allegations of using Medicare insurance advertising not in compliance with the law.
Updates: Another mailing from National Reply Center has been received August 15, 2012 with slightly different offer wording. The latest headline on the outside of what deceivingly looks like a check might be inside says, "2012 Death Benefit Information" and is mailed from Columbus, Ohio, Permit #843.
The back side says "Postcard received after the deadline may NOT receive this information in a timely manner." The business reply card they want you fill out with your phone number and date of birth is to be mailed to National Reply Center, Box 3012, Indianapolis, Indiana 46209-9301.
Inside the revised mailing the headline is "Senior Final Expense Benefits For Florida Residents" with the come-on that "You may qualify for Senior Final Expense Benefits that would pay your family in the event of your death an insurance cash benefit up to $35,000 TAX FREE." And then the invitation in capital letters "TO SEE IF YOU QUALIFY, mail this postage-paid card today." It looks like they've upped the amount from $20,000 to $35,000, probably to test which number gets the most responses.
And then adds "Requests received after 15 days may not be processed."
In March 2013, new mailings went out from National Reply Center, this time saying "2014 Death Benefit And Free Wal-Mart Gift Certificate Information Enclosed." A business reply card asks for name, date of birth, phone, and spouse's information. The mailing announces a "Senior Final Expense Life Insurance Program" to pay for funeral expenses "not paid by Social Security." It says to fill out and return the card within five days to receive a free quote and Wal-Mart Gift Certificate.