Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Scam - Part 1

I may have fallen victim to a phone scam.  It's too early to tell if I've been had, but I figured this would make a great blog entry.  Since I did say that I'm going to review things, I'm going to add the National Union Fire Insurance Company and/or Global Contact Services to my list.  That way, if they take my money illegally, I'll do my best to bring them down - and have fun doing it!  On the other hand, if they turn out to be legit, I'll report that as well.

From what I can tell, it appears that the National Union Fire Insurance Company (NUF) is a legitimate insurance company with interesting acquisition techniques via Global Contact Services (GCS).

It all started with a phone call I received today.  This is what the caller ID said: "GCS - 1-714-551-9581".  I seldom answer telemarketer calls, but I thought this was a phone call I was expecting, so I answered.

The woman thanked me for my business with Wells Fargo.  She said she was going to send me a gas voucher and started talking about some kind of accidental health insurance - and all this after I only simply said, "Hello."

Believe it or not (and this almost never happens), I was actually interested, as we just lost our GAP insurance through my employer.  If this is a good deal, then it could be a good cost-effective replacement.

Basically, the woman said that she would send me some documentation to look over and after a free trial period, if I'm not satisfied, I can cancel coverage, and I get to keep the gas voucher.  She never really asked permission to send the package (they never do), but I never said no.

She said, "Okay, let me confirm your address.  I have you at ...."  It was the correct address.  Then she said, "Now please give me your birth date so we can confirm eligibility."

Oh yes - there it is!  Only a few months ago, I had a similar phone call - and that time I wasn't interested.  I had stayed on the line just to see how far they would get, and when they asked for my birth date, I had said, "Sorry, but I can't give that information over the phone."  She had answered, "But I can't confirm eligibility without your birth date."  Then I had said, "I'm not interested."  Then she got angry and terminated the call in a huff.

This time, I tried a different tactic - as I was legitimately curious to see what they're selling.  I said, "Wouldn't it be sufficient if I just told you my birth year?"  She answered (keeping her cool), "I have to enter a month and a day in the computer screen.  That's just how it is.  I can't get to the next screen unless I put something in."

I said to myself, "What the hay.  Let's see where this goes."  I gave my birth date and then it was like lightning hit me.  She was done with me.  It was almost as if I had signed my soul to the devil and he was dancing and laughing on top of me.

Not even five seconds had elapsed when she said, "Okay, I'm going to transfer you to an agent," and this other dude got on the phone.  He called me by name and told me that the phone call was being recorded.  Then he went on with a big spiel about what the insurance was.  He kept stopping in the middle and asking, "Do you understand this, Mr. Windham?"  Yes - I understood him.  And as he kept going and kept asking me if I understood him, I started getting nervous.  He was freaking me out.  It was almost as if he was building a case against me in the event that I ever complained that I never authorized any charges.  I went to the computer to look up the number that had just called me.

If you ever need to do this, it's really easy: just go to Google and type in the number without the initial "1" and no dashes.  Go ahead and give it a try.  Search on "7145519581" and see what comes up.

I found this website:  I saw the posting by tickoclock where it says something like, "He said he met me in the grocery store.  He got me to tell him my name and my address..."  Something didn't feel right.

Then at the same moment, the "agent" said, "Now I need to set up a security question.  What is your birth city?"

I wanted to say a cuss word, but what came out was, "Um - wait a minute, I'm looking something up."

I then told him (lied) that my birth city was the same city I'm now living in.  Well then - WHEW!  At least they don't have my birth city.

Somewhere in there he mentioned the National Union Fire Insurance Company.  It all went by so fast!  In the end, he gave me a phone number to call if I had further questions: 1-800-572-5848.  He again thanked me in behalf of Wells Fargo and that was it.  The phone call was over.

So, then I had another number that I could look up.  When I searched on 8005725848, I came across this website:  It gives some 9 pages on NUF.  Most of the posts seem to be complaints along the lines of "They're telemarketers wasting my time."  Some posts claim that they never received the initial package (see the suckeredin and PrescottChet posts on page 1).  Quite a few posts say that they canceled, but kept seeing charges.  Some posts say that they never received a phone call, and they never signed up, but they started seeing the charges on their account.

On the other hand, there are some posts talking about how the insurance is legitimate.  On page 6, Jeff claims: "I have this insurance and just got paid over 5000 dollars last month for being in the hospital a couple of days."  But then again, Victim of HUF FPP on page 7 says that he tried to submit a claim, but was unable to do so.

So, is it a scam, or is it legit?  I guess I'm about to find out!  I'll keep you posted along the way.  Why would a scam give a legit phone number that works?  How could any insurance company operate such a large scam over three years and not yet be shut down?  That doesn't make sense.  But then again - why did the dude claim to be from Wells Fargo, when they're clearly a third party that does business with other banks?

(To see a semi-humorous transcript of the phone call where I cancel, click here to see Part 2.  I'll give you a hint - they really don't want you to cancel!)


PS - It's probably never a good idea to divulge your birth date over the phone.


Anonymous said...

I have had this coverage for almost 3 years. The benefit re-imbursement does go up each year. I have filed 7 claims over the last 3 years and have never had a problem getting reimbursed. These were all for regular doctor vists.

Melvyn Windham said...

Yes - so far the insurance does appear to be legitimate. I did receive material in the mail, but I've yet to do some independent research. It still bothers me that the guy claimed to be from Wells Fargo when he's really a third party.

Stay tuned for "Part 2" in a week or so...