Downright Despicable (and illegal) Advertising

Every once in a while we run into advertising that we feel is somewhat misleading or questionable.  Then there are times we see things that are downright misleading and illegal and we feel we should bring those to people’s attention so that borrower’s and their families will not fall prey to bad actors.

I was at my mom’s house over the weekend helping her with her bills.  I opened an envelope she had set aside on which she said she was going to call the people on the letter because she felt it was important.

It had no return address on the envelope and just the word VERIFY stamped boldly in red on the face with my mom’s name and address showing through the window of the envelope.  My mom has a reverse mortgage and is aware of her need to complete her annual occupancy certification.

This is what came to her home:

(No return address)

(Letter with no NMLS number, company info etc)

My mom was confused because although this does not say it is from her lender, it doesn’t say who it is from and it does say they need to verify her occupancy.  It doesn’t say anywhere who the lender is, there is no state licensing information or NMLS number and my mom was rightly confused so she set it aside to ask me for help before calling (thank goodness).

Folks, this kind of solicitation is illegal and unethical! 

We tried to call the number on the form and a man’s voice answers an answering machine and does not identify a company, licensing information or anything about the place you just called.  After several searches, we can only determine that the number is a cell phone number but there is no listed company or person for this number and reverse number searches turn up nothing.  The name “Allison” reveals nothing.

We can only deduce that this is a scam trying to make you believe your current lender is doing an occupancy inspection.  More than that, it is totally illegal in that it does not give you any of the information for the person/company that is trying to obtain your financial information.

We hate to see borrowers scammed and if they get you to call them on false pretenses, you can’t believe that the loan they will quote you is going to be truthful either.  In fact, there is no way to know if the company or person who sent this out is even licensed to do so.

All advertisement must be clear as to the intent of the sender and the relationship but must also identify the licensing information of the individual who sent it.  Not only do we not have “Allison’s” full name information, there’s not even a license number or company name for borrowers to check.

Make sure any advertising you consider answering has adequate company and individual information.  There should be notice telling you the originators full name, who they are licensed by and their license number.  There should be an address and a working phone number, not just one number to a cell phone voicemail with no other way to contact them.

Folks, if you or a family member receives something like this, throw it immediately in the trash or use it only to contact the Office of the District Attorney to report the financial crime of false advertising, consumer fraud and unlawful and unfair business practices in the county in which you reside.

Most DA websites have information as to how to file a complaint right on the front page and if you feel so inclined, let them hear from you.

We will be sending this one out because it is deceptive and potentially harmful to seniors.  I am very happy that my mom put this one aside and was not scammed and I hope that by posting this information, you or one of your loved ones are not either!

Also See: 

https://reverse.mortgage/occupancy-requirements-explained

https://www.nrmlaonline.org/2015/06/04/nrmla-dirty-dozen-unethical-advertising-practices