“Senior benefits” insurance sales lead materials appeared as governmental mailings
(DES MOINES, Iowa) A Dallas-based lead generation company that provides sales leads to direct marketing companies has agreed to stop sending insurance sales lead mailings to Iowans that appear to come from the government.
KramerDirect LLC, also known as KDirect LLC, and company owner Allyn Kramer, have agreed to refrain from misleading solicitation practices and pay $5,000 for enforcement of Iowa’s consumer fraud laws, through an agreement called an assurance of voluntary compliance. Kramer and his company denied wrongdoing.
The postcard-style mailings were directed to Iowans turning 65, and asked them to mail back their date of birth and phone number in order to obtain information about Medicare and other “senior benefits.”
Attorney General Tom Miller pointed out various features designed to invite the false impression that the mailings came from a government agency, such as:
- A prominent “2015/FORM FM0812” on the front that mimics tax forms
- A superfluous notice to “Postmaster” that suggests official business
- A reference to entitlements under the federal Medicare program
- A non-descript return address – “Information Service Center” – more suggestive of a governmental function than a private business
Miller said that the mailings were also misleading in claiming that the consumer’s phone number was needed to deliver the senior benefits information. “In fact,” Miller said, “the phone number and other personal information were being collected for insurance agents to use in directing sales pitches to consumers who returned the postcard.”
A disclaimer stating that the source of the mailing was not a government agency, but instead was intended to generate insurance leads, was buried at the bottom in small print. “It’s deceptive to create a false impression in large print, and then provide the truth in small print that a consumer is likely to miss,” Miller said.
In April, KramerDirect paid a $65,000 penalty to the Social Security Administration for the unauthorized and inappropriate use of the SSA’s name on its marketing mailings.
Miller emphasized that Iowans need to be wary of government-look-alike mailings, and to be alert to deceptive efforts to collect their personal information. “Many businesses specialize in creating lead lists that are sold to marketers, and a savvy consumer will be on the lookout for misleading efforts to add them to a list,” Miller added.
For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Consumer Protection Division through the Attorney General’s website at www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov or email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Consumers can also call the Consumer Protection Division at 515-281-5926, or outside the Des Moines area, toll free, at 888-777-4590.