In the normal course of events, everyone gets a pretty steady stream of junk mail, but when you have a life event”… marriage, new child, or a new home, there are public records that give bottom dwelling mud suckers who are looking for any information that will make their scam seem official an “in”. I don’t consider this mail harmless junk mail. I consider it “scam mail”. If you read the scam mail carefully, they tell you that, “they are not associated with your lender”, although they put your lenders name right above your mailing address so you can see it in the envelope window. They also state that “they have no affiliation with any federal, state or local entity”, but they try to appear official by including a “reference file number” and having an official sounding name like Title Recording Service. Actually in the case of the Title Recording Service they actually wrapped their scam mail in my official title recording document and folded it so the “And when recorded mail document to:” address, including a reference to my title company, showed in the window of their envelope. This one was pretty effective, I actually put it with my escrow documents for a few days. When I opened it and saw the scam to charge me 49 dollars to fill out and mail to me a Request for Declaration of Homestead form that I could then file, I decided I should do a blog post. The big problems with their offer: I could download and fill out the form myself if I wanted to for free, and the protection this declaration provides is automatic, so the form is not necessary! This type of scam mail should be grounds for jail time. I don’t care how many truths are on the paperwork, the lies are there too and the letter is designed to mislead at least a certain percentage of the people who get it. This company is charging those people money for nothing!
Mortgage Life Insurance offers are flooding in. They all have my mortgage company name on the letter, usually in a way that it shows in their envelope address window. They usually start with a header of “Attention: Notice to Homeowner” “**Urgent Response Needed**”, they have the loan amount, the county name, and way at the bottom, in the fine print, they state they are not affiliated with any lender. This type of scam mail is a little different. They are offering a service, or in this case an insurance, but an expensive one with many better alternatives, unless you just can’t get any other life insurance. But it is still scam mail based on the misleading presentation designed to imply affiliation, and what looks like more than one lie (misleading statement) in the body of most of the letters. I’m certain that if they promise to “Return All Premiums” there is a huge catch, it is a very rare thing, and they also charge big “fees” beyond the “premium” charge. For research I considered calling to find out what the offer really is, but I skipped it because I hate high pressure sales pitches, and I’m sure that anyone who actually contacts them is in for boiler room tactics!
I will be happy when we get back to the normal level of junk mail, until then I will have to get better about figuring out what is real and what is a scam mail. I don’t want to throw away that first mortgage statement!
Update: Feb 5th 2013. There are a couple cases where you may actually want to file a declaration of homestead. Not usually right after buying a home though, which is when you are most likely to receive letters offering the service (which you can do for free). It appears that if you own several homes and want to chose one to protect, or plan to voluntarily sell your home, and of course are in financial difficulty, you may want to actually declare your homestead. See this link form more info: Regulation of Homestead Filing Services: Legal Guide H-1