Saturday, August 5, 2017

National Reply Center

Yesterday, I received a rather innocuous letter in my mailbox. There was no name of sender for the return address, which was given simply as:
123-B Sunrise Center Dr.
Thomasville, NC 27360
The exterior of the envelope mentioned a "Free Walmart© Gift Certificate To Senior Citizens Ages 50 to 80", which set-off some alarm bells for me because such offers are typically part of a scam. But, having little else to do, I opened the envelope and had a look at the contents.

Inside, I found a yellow card which said:
"2017 Benefit Information for Hawaii Citizens Only

You may qualify for a state-regulated program to pay for your final expenses regardless of your medical condition, even if you have been turned down before.

It is important you know how to qualify for this benefit available to you. This benefit will pay for 100% of all funeral expenses up to $35,000. This payment is tax-free for Hawaii residents. You are entitled to receive no-cost information as a resident of Hawaii.

IMPORTANT - Return this postage-paid card within 5 days and receive a FREE WALMART© GIFT CARD."

I was given this address to which I would mail the card in order to claim my Walmart card:
National Reply Center
PO Box 46715
Greensboro, NC 27499-3876
So, the return address is in Thomasville, NC in Davidson County, but the address given for me to send back the card is in Greensboro, NC in Guilford County. These two cities are about 25 miles apart. While the Thomasville address is a real building address, the Greensboro address is a Post Office box, which is typical for junk-mailers who want to avoid getting packages of dog shit delivered to their own home or office from people angry about getting this kind of stuff in their mail. The postmark is from Greensboro. 

The sender appears to a company called Leads 2 Success, which specializes in bulk mailing on behalf of insurance companies who are looking for new customers. I can only assume that they got my current home address by purchasing it from other companies with whom I have done business in the past, so there's nothing illegal going-on here. While they are not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, that agency did give them a B- rating. The BBB page for Leads 2 Success lists two complaints posted by people who had received letters similar mine, but none from insurance companies who are Leads 2 Success clients. Leads 2 Success also has a Yelp page which does have comments posted by people with whom they've done business.

In regards to the "National Reply Center' in Greensboro. The Better Business Bureau gives them an F rating, which tells me something right away. This is NOT a company with whom you should do business or trust with your personal information. There are complaints going back several years against these people, as far back as 2006! The website has a long list of posts from people angry about receiving unsolicited mail from National Reply Center and some of these complaints are rather unsettling, with people reporting that they had sent the card back with the requested information and someone actually came to their home in an attempt to sell them insurance!

These people seem to be very suspicious and more than a little dishonest. According to this report, National Reply Center used to have its mailing address - another Post Office box - out of Indianapolis, where they also received an F rating from the Better Business Bureau in Indiana. In fact, they've used Post Office boxes as their sole means of receiving replies for as long as I can see, ranging from Indiana, to Missouri, to North Carolina and perhaps others. They've switched from using one PO box to another in the same city, possibly in response to receiving angry letters from people who had received their junk mail.

Locating the exact physical location of the PO box wasn't difficult, I was able to find it here:

But, don't think that solves your problems. Even knowing the physical address of the PO box doesn't tell you who owns it. While getting the location was easy, finding-out who registered it is very difficult. In order to get the name and physical address of the people who registered it, you'd need to initiate some sort of legal action against them in the courts. You may wish to call the post office in Greensboro at 336-668-1375 with your complaint or try the US Postal Service's Customer Service at 800-275-8777 if contacting the Greensboro Post Office doesn't work well for you.

This may be interesting to you: Haberstroh Insurance Agency (doing business as National Reply Center) was fined by the Social Security Administration and you can read the story for more information. According to the Better Business Bureau website, National Reply Center used several Post Office box addresses while in the area of Bridgeton, MO which is also where Haberstroh is located. I've read variant accounts of this story, with the linked article indicating that National Rely Center was the dba of Haberstroh, while another story stated that Haberstroh was working with NRC. I have no idea if Haberstroh is still associated with National Reply Center.

Even the gift cards being offered seem to vary with the location of the recipient. While I and others received a Walmart gift card offer, other people received an offer for a McDonalds gift card. Despite the promise stated in the mailing, the actual value in US dollars of the gift card is never mentioned. So, National Reply Center could actually send you a gift card worth $1 or less and they wouldn't have actually lied to you, but I haven't seen any reports from anyone stating that they actually received the promised gift card.

I'm going to contact the Greensboro Post Office on Monday about this. If that doesn't work out for me, I may take it upstairs to the US Postmaster General. If neither of those gives me the results I want, I do have other options which I will explain in updates to this blog.

Duane Browning

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