|By Bob LaMendola, Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
But consumer experts said responding to the offers will result in seniors getting a phone call or knock on the door -- sometimes many -- from insurance agents.
The postcards typically do not come from insurers. That's because federal and state laws forbid insurers from soliciting seniors unless they ask for it. Instead, other companies mail the postcards, and if you reply, they sell your name to insurers so an agent can call you.
Seniors may not even realize what they have done.
"That's the way the salesmen try to get their foot in the door," said
The technique is not new. Federal and state laws allow it. The
"The people behind these type of things feel like there's a sucker born every day, and they're just looking for them," said Newton, executive director of the Florida Consumer Action Network. He said his group gets complaints regularly about the mailings. He gets the postcards himself.
"The ones that upset me the most are burial insurance," Newton said. "They try to make [the letter] look like a government document. In general, the coverage is not very good. You end up paying far more than the policy would pay off."
SD, or Senior Direct, is part of TargetLeads, a company that says it has been collecting sales leads on seniors for 26 years on behalf of insurers selling health, annuity, funeral and long-term care coverage.
Consumer experts urge seniors to be careful about sending back anonymous postcards. Without the name, you can't check out the policy or the insurer in advance, said
"Why would you send a postcard back to an anonymous source when you could find an insurance agent of your own choosing in your own community?" Dalin said.
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