Consumer Alert Don’t Let a Postcard Turn You Into a Prospect


Do you ever get those postcards in the mail that look real official, warn you about something and ask you to send the postcard back for more information with your phone number? This is usually a technique to get you on what’s called a “prospect list.” There are companies that make their money selling these lists to marketers for all kinds of products, including insurance.

The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) recently received a complaint from a bank about one of these postcards. A postcard was sent to a customer of the bank that contained the customer’s mortgage loan number and amount. The card asked the bank’s customer if he wanted to find out how to avoid foreclosure on his home. To find out more on how to avoid foreclosure, the card asked him to fill and send the card back. OCI believes that this particular postcard is related to the sale of life insurance.

What was of particular concern about the postcard involved in the bank complaint is that the postcard person being solicited; in this case the name of the bank where he has his mortgage and the amount of the balance of the mortgage. As a result, the person thought his bank was contacting him.

OCI is currently investigating this matter. However, be aware that if you return a postcard and give out your phone number, you could then be contacted by a solicitor who would not be violating Wisconsin’s “Do Not Call” law. This is because, by sending the card back with your phone number you are inviting the other party to contact you.

The practice of sending out returnable postcards for the purpose of soliciting an inquiry 2 days ago – is not illegal. Therefore, before responding to these types of solicitation, the OCI recommends that you find out exactly to whom you are responding. If you can’t tell by what’s on the card, don’t send it in. If the card provides a name of a company, make sure you can establish its validity.

For example, in the bank case, the person checked with his bank to find out if it had sent him the postcard. The bank did not and the bank filed a complaint with OCI.

Most of these postcards are from companies who are trying to get you on a list of people they can sell to some marketing firm or insurance agency. Don’t get duped into getting your name on an unwanted “prospect list” and lose your protections under Wisconsin’s “Do Not Call” law.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact OCI at 1-800-236-8517, or on the Internet at Consumers who have a problem with these kinds of practices can file a complaint with OCI by writing:

      Office of the Commissioner of Insurance
      Complaints Section
      P O Box 7873
    Madison, WI 53707-7873

By Guenther Ruch, Administrator
Division of Regulation and Enforcement
Office of the Commissioner of Insurance


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