Help Me Hank: Insurance Scam
Hospital visits, doctors appointments, X-rays, blood work, pills, surgery - you could need it at any moment - and itís all expensive.
So even though Bob Maseda of West Yarmouth was asleep when the phone call came, he thought the salesman had a tempting offer.
"They indicated to me they were a supplementary type of insurance program that would go beyond the insurance that I had."
Low cost medicines and cheap doctor visits sounded good, so Bob agreed to take a free look at the company's info, but look what arrived - not insurance - but pamphlets of various discount coupons, of no value to Bob and his wife.
"It was obvious immediately that it wasnít something we were interested in."
And what's more Bob's bank statement showed the company had already taken $349 from their checking account.
"We were definitely upset about that."
So starting last December, Bob called and called to get their money back, but got nowhere.
"They just put us off again and again and again and it didn't happen."
That's when they called "Help me Hank".
Turns out, the company that called Bob, is based in Canada and is not even supposed to be doing insurance business here.
"Was this company licensed to sell insurance in Massachusetts?"
Chris Goetcheus, Division of Insurance
"We checked, and no they're not."
The Canadian police also showed us dozens of complaints about the company, most for unauthorized charges, totaling more than $32,000!
Barry Elliott, Ontario Provincial Police
"We canít talk about our investigation, but hopefully at some point they'll be taken down and brought before the Canadian courts. "
We called the company lawyers, and this refund check soon arrived at the Maseda's. But officials here warn, check for proper state licensing before you buy insurance, or you could wind up paying for nothing.
"People are looking for any way they can to minimize costs and I think they have to be all the more wary these days."
Bottom line: officials here and in Canada say do not give your payment information to some unknown telephone salesperson, no matter how attractive their offer sounds. If youíre fighting a consumer battle, maybe I can help!
For more information:
MA Division of Insurance---for information on insurance companies or to check to see if a company is licensed to sell insurance in MA.
PhoneBusters--To report a problem to Ontario Provincial Police call "PhoneBusters" 888-495-8501