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Connecticut Better Business Bureau Warns the Public About "Extended Vehicle Warranty" Offers

Companies Flaunting Do Not Call Registry Offer “Outrageously-Priced” Service and Seek Personal Information.

Wallingford, CT, July 09, 2008 --( Connecticut Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers not to be taken-in by a deceptive extended car warranty scam that is driving car owners to distraction across the nation.

Victims bombarded by an endless stream of postcards, e-mails, letters and telephone calls to home and mobile phones allege receiving such calls even when they are listed on the Do Not Call Registry, a clear violation of federal law.

The marketers are trying to sell an “extended warranty” to vehicle owners. The mailings typically catch the recipient’s attention with a warning on the front of the correspondence such as “Final Notice: Expiring Auto Warranty.” In fact, these pitches are designed to fool consumers into purchasing unnecessary and questionable warranties, and get them to give up personal information.

BBB has received a staggering 27,000 complaints about these practices nationwide, 60 of which, according to the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office, are from Connecticut residents. Confused consumers are driven by fear that their car warranties are expired.

Ironically, some would-be victims said the scammers called them repeatedly to sell an “extended warranty,” even though their vehicle’s warranty had long expired. People who try to get their money back may get only a partial refund or no money at all.

Connecticut BBB president, Paulette Hotton, says the scheme is widespread and its targets include the elderly and even new car owners with valid manufacturer’s warranties. “We find that the telemarketers won’t take ‘no’ for an answer and will call repeatedly, sometimes in the early hours of the morning.”

“There are cases where the telemarketers tell people it is unsafe for them to be on the roads because their manufacturer’s extended warranty had expired – even if they never bought an extended warranty in the first place,” Hotton added.

The depth and breadth of these schemes have caught the attention of state Attorneys General. Connecticut A.G. Richard Blumenthal is helping lead a nationwide investigation.

The lion’s share of companies engaged in this scheme is located near St. Louis. BBB of Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois lists 92 extended warranty companies in that region that are responsible for a huge number of complaints from across the country.

A BBB spokesman in St. Louis says potential customers are told the extended warranty covers a wide range of repairs, when in fact “…a very limited range of services are covered.”

Your BBB and the Connecticut Attorney General’s office offer the following tips to protect yourself from this scam:

•Be wary of mailings that appear to come from your vehicle’s manufacturer offering extended warranty coverage.

•When considering this or any other type of telephone solicitation, insist on getting a contract in which all terms and conditions are clearly explained before you agree to sign up or provide credit card or other payment information.

•Never give out personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account or credit card number unless your are absolutely positive with whom you are dealing.

•The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers to fully understand terms of coverage, and emphasizes that an “extended warranty” is not a warranty, but a service contract.

•Check out any companies with your BBB or the state Attorney General’s office before agreeing to do business with them.

Contact Information
Better Business Bureau CT
Howard Schwartz
203-279-2700 ext. 103

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