Sleaze, Scams and Sales

I—known to my wife as one with a deficiency when searching for something around the house with little aid other than my own two eyes—often kid that my “other” career option was to be a CIA agent.  And while I may not possess the innate skills of perception required for a career in espionage, I do occasionally get to act as an investigator on behalf of clients, family and friends.  Most recently, I tried to help a friend discern whether a piece of mail she received was intended for her benefit or merely “to sell her something,” or worse.

WBAL  She received an apparent “2010 Medicare Update,” and as one nearing retirement, why wouldn’t she want an update on how Medicare reforms might impact her?  But as I pored over the mailing, I couldn’t determine its originating source.  The return address was “National Processing Center,” a name used by the U.S. Census Bureau for their primary information collection center.  But as I scanned the entire mailing, I finally found the tell-tale signs of deception disclaiming that this was, “IMPORTANT NON-GOVERNMENTAL” documentation in the guise of official business.

What can we do??  Expect deception.  Some of the biggest crooks out there are legal “legitimate” enterprises.  So not only do we have to watch out for outright fraud and theft on Craigslist and Ebay, we also have to look for the conflict of interest in every mailing we get from our bank, brokerage firm and insurance company and every pitch we get from their representatives. 

While we want to be careful, we don’t want to go through life as a hardened skeptic, so here are a few tips for examining solicitations from the financial industry designed to determine the economic bias—the financial conflict of interest—of the party attempting to sell you something:

  1. Determine the source of the solicitation.  Many companies will cloak a solicitation in a mailing that appears to be something else.  You’ll notice that insurance companies don’t sell insurance; they sell “peace-of-mind,” and they’ll often hide what they actually do.  THIS particular company is, however, extremely elusive.  Its return address goes to “National Processing Center”… and I did some hunting to find out that there is an entity called the “National Processing Center Senior Services” in Durant, OK.  Hysterically, the Better Business Bureau gives them an A- even though they list their type of business as “Funeral Related Services”!  Complete deception!
  2. Answer the question “What’s in it for them?”  Once you’ve realized that the mailing ISN’T in fact from, in this case, the Federal Government, you can question why THIS company wants to educate you with their “Medicare Update.”  In this case, the answer is simple—someone who is interested in a Medicare Update is likely in their target demographic for the products THEY sell.
  3. If it sounds too good to be true… One of the mainstays in the financial product sales are invitations to “Free” lunch and dinner seminars.  If a so-called advisor is buying you and a room full of your peers a steak dinner at Morton’s and picking up the tab, you’d better be ready for a sales pitch that’s coming sooner or later.
  4. If you believe that solicitation of any kind is downright fraudulent, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.  You can access their complaint department by clicking HERE.

Any company that has to deceive you in order to get your business is simply not a reputable enough organization for you to deal with!

38 thoughts on “Sleaze, Scams and Sales

  1. They may be broadening their market.
    An entity identifying itself by the mailing address “Benefits Processing Center , PO Box 1367, Durant, OK 74702-9931″ as targeted the retirement community with the admonishment to get their “Income Tax Alert Changes” simply by giving them an example of your signature, you and your spouse’s ages, and a phone number.
    Well, what would you expect? They already have your address…

    Hanging by a thread,
    Damocles

  2. I’m surprised that the U.S.P.S. has not been notified to investigated this operation (scam). I appreciate your effort in providing the above information. FYI, they now are targeting the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, CA.

  3. I just received a card from Benefits Processing Center, PO Box 1367, Durant OK. I am sure it is the same as noted above with this one targeting “important income tax changes” free service info.
    I feel they will ask for various personell info & try to axcess your accounts. If I maybe wrong, please inform me, Thanks, Mike.

  4. Thanks for the info. I recently received the same come on that said it would reduce or eliminate taxes on Social Security as well as interest income. I suspected a scam but your posting proved it. Thanks again for taking the time to share yiour experiencing!

  5. I’m so grateful for this site and the information about Benefits Processing Center PO Box 1367 Durant OK 74702-9931. My wife just received a card from this outfit TODAY urging her “TO FIND OUT HOW TO QUALIFY FOR THIS PLAN, AND TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE MEDICARE QUICK GUIDE, RETURN THIS MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT INQUIRY CARD TODAY, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH….” It’s going in the trash!

  6. Thanks for the tip. This Benefits Processing Center, PO Box 1367 in Durant OK must be the scam center for all this stuff. My notice offered to reduce or eliminate taxes on Social Security & Interest Income.

  7. Just arrived: Benefits Processing Center, Durant, OK. The card assures me that “There is an alternative to losing your life savings….”. I can help protect my assets without buying long-term care insurance policy. Just sign, provide ages, and phone, then drop into the mail. I don’t think so!! Thanks for the postings as they confirmed my suspect mind.

  8. I received the same type of mail today for long term care benefits for veterans. I plan to black out all personal info, including bar code, and mail it back to them. This way they will be charged the postal fee. Not much but if enough people did it maybe that would discourage this form of fraud.

  9. The pitch has changed, per the card I received, to “Learn how you can QUALIFY for VETERAN BENEFITS of up to @2,020 a month, TAX-FREE!” Most attractive. Glad I did some ressearch but was ready to find that this organization: a) wants information, b) wants to sell something and, c) probably has nothing that would interest me.

  10. BENEFITS PROCESSING CENTER
    P.O. BOX 1367
    DURANT OK 74702-9913
    This is the mailing address of a card I received telling me they can reduce or eliminate taxes on my social security. TOTAL BS!!! I’ve been doing my taxes before and also since my retirement and my Social Security Tax work sheet does the job for me. P.S. I noticed the ultra fine print on the bottom of the card which reads “Not Affiliated With Any Government Agency” JUST ANOTHER SCAM TO TRICK THE ELDERLY. We have some really sick people in this good ole’ USA!!!!!

  11. Say, I don’t see any of Russ’s exculpations posted. Do you guys just email them out to foment traffic on this thread of your site or are they real??

    Hanging by a hair,
    Damocles

  12. Thank You! I received a document in the mail 2012 Social Security Benefit Update, I figured OK, sign up and see what it is about, I filled out the information and realized they did not have my full name on the document. I figured I would have to search for forever to find anything regarding this company/agency. It took ONE search, and I found your site. Thanks again. Jan

    • I’m so glad to see that this post has continued to benefit folks who’ve been scammed. Just yesterday, my own mother emailed me to ask whether or not she was being targeted–and indeed, she was! In this case, she was receiving emails from a supposed bank asking for her date of birth and Social Security number regarding the re-financing of my parents mortgage. The only problem is…they don’t even HAVE a mortgage on their house any more. It never ceases to amaze me how many people make it their life’s work to steal the livelihood of others. Heck, if they put that much time and energy into doing something legitimate, they’d probably make a good living!

  13. Just received the offer from BENEFITS PROCESSING CENTER, PO BOX 1367, DURANT OK 74702-9913 to send me the new brochure titled “Shedding Light on the Confusion Over Medicare Benefits.” They say that recent reports have indicated that Medicare enrollees are to receive new benefits from the sweeping legislation passed by congress. They offer to send this brochure, which will help me to understand the difference in these programs and determine which is best for me and ask me to supply them my signature, my date of birth, my spouse (her name I guess), her date of birth and our phone number. Thanks for your information on this outfit – the offer was torn up and tossed into recyclable trash.

  14. Income Tax Alert… Received today, November 29th 2012… Reduce or Eliminate Tax Burden on Social Security… Parents got that today… Father intercepted it fortunately, asked me to look at it… Mother would not have been the wiser to know the difference I believe… Might have actually fell for it. Personally I am considering the same, black out pertinate information and send it back and let them pay for our troubles.

  15. Received a ‘FUNERAL BENEFIT NOTICE’ with a return address of
    National Processing Center: PMB #220: 325 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE: Washington, DC. Have they changed their address ?

  16. They are still at it in 2013. Received today the red, white and blue “2013 MEDICARE UPDATE”. Not sure where they obtained my information – probably from public records as I am a homeowner. Return address listed as PO Box 49, Durant, OK, 74702-9918, which is the zip code for the post office there. In the fine print “the information will be delivered by a representative”. OK, great… like I really want another stranger banging on my front door. No way, no thanks, no response by me.

  17. They are still at it today (as of Feb 2013) as the official “information concerning 2013 MEDICARE UPDATE” happily arrived in my mailbox, looking all official and such asking me for my name (they know it already) spouse’s info, birth dates, phone number, etc. All this, if returned to them within 15 days, will warrant someone knocking at my front door with “reliable, appropriate and suitable information related matters.” It goes further, stating:
    “These representatives and/or any company they represent are not connected with or endorsed nu the US Government or any state agency”.
    Reality check : So they are going to splash my information to anyone who subscribed to their “Service” and I’m going to get multiple calls and visits from an army of strangers and telemarketers???
    You gotta be kidding.

  18. Got the little green card in the mail today, Feb 12. Checked Benefits Processing Center out and found out that it’s just bunch of “malarky” as Biden would say. So, into the shredder the little green card went. Gotta be careful out there, expecially, when a pre-paid card asks for your date of birth, and that of your spouse, email address and phone number giving everyone along its return route to the Center access to that info.

  19. Card (green) received today without name of company. Since no legitimate info, thought it was a scam. Glad to find the info so easily on the net.

  20. I just received a card entitled “Senior Law Benefits”. Because there was no clear identifying info linking it to something legitimate, I was suspicious and googled it and got to this website. Thank you! I will now black out my name and send the card back so the scammers will have to pay the return postage – Haha! Imagine if everyone did this? They’d be pissed!

  21. Why can’t we stop this? I just the “Important Changes in Medicare scam notice.. it is soooooo very, very sad that they are targeting seniors. But I want to protect others! With all the above, this is obviously going on a long time.. It is an easily noted thing for some folks (they ask for signature, birth date on a POSTCARD…for all to see and access) but my 94 year old mom and others in her retirement community have no idea that this is a scam. Is there something we can do to stop them??

    • Why can’t we stop it, Sue? It’s sad, but unfortunately, those who are low enough to make their living scamming people also go after the easiest targets–the most vulnerable.

  22. I just got a card from this company in Durant saying there is a program that will pay 100% of my funeral expenses up to $35,000. Sound too ridiculous? I thought so. I trashed it along with all mailings claiming to give FREE LUNCHES
    to seniors.

  23. Per a postage-paid green mail-in card received on Jan. 16,2014, the latest scam angle from the Benefits Processing Center in Durant, OK — it says:
    “2014 BENEFIT INFORMATION FOR ARIZONA RESIDENTS” across the top, then says “You may qualify for a state-regulated program to pay for your funeral expenses regardless of your medical condition even if you have been turned down before. … This benefit will pay 100% of all funeral expenses up to $35,000.” Then it says we are “entitled to receive free information” by providing a signature, age, spouse’s age and a phone number (I see it’s the same info request found in other offers discussed in this Web site’s comment section).

    What alerted me to check on this was a hunch that said: Why would I have to send something to Oklahoma for info on what it says is an Arizona state law??

    That didn’t add up, and then I found the info on this site. I must say that helpful info such as this is one of the hugest PROS of the Internet. In just minutes I had the answer to confirm my hunch, posted these details, and now am throwing the card in the trash. Yes, INFORMATION IS POWER!

  24. Just received at green card from Benefits Processing Center, Durant , OK titled 2014 Medicare Health Plan Update regarding eligibility for plans at little or no monthly premiums that can provide Free dentures, diabetic supplies, gym membership, $10 insulin,transportation. “This is a free service”! It offers to send me info on all the benefits I may be entitled to at no cost or obligation.
    It also states in very small print “NOT AFFILIATED WITH OR ENDORSED BY MEDICARE NOR ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCIES.”
    It asks for my name (??already mailed to me) and date of birth for me and my spouse on a “no postage needed” return card..
    I guess I’ll join y’all and pitch their “pitch”.!

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