WCAX Investigates: Car insurance scam

By  | 

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) It's not every day the guy charged with protecting Vermonters' money is targeted by thieves.

"I picked up the call and they said, 'Hello, this is Maria Perez from Quality Insurance Company.' Immediately I thought, this is unusual," said Michael Pieciak, Vermont's financial regulation commissioner.

The caller told Pieciak her company is working with big names like AllState, State Farm and Farmers to save him hundreds of dollars on his car insurance.

"I said to her, 'Well Miss Perez, I'm the insurance commissioner in Vermont. This is a scam; we'll be investigating. Thank you,' and hung up," he said.

Pieciak says, for him, the warning signs were obvious. He's never heard of a Quality Insurance in Vermont. And he says insurance companies don't call on behalf of other insurance companies to offer deals.

"We confirmed with those three insurance companies that there is no affiliation at all," Pieciak said.

We did some digging too. Quality Insurance is not registered in Vermont. And when we called its 802 number for answers we heard, "The number you have dialed is not in service. Please check the number and try again."

So we tried the New Hampshire extension and got, "None of our representatives are available right now. If you received a call from this number, we should contact you within the next day."

But the message goes on to inform callers to press 1 if they want to be added to a "do not call list."

Finally, we turned to the Better Business Bureau where we did find a Quality Insurance in Ohio with an A+ rating. We called to clear up the confusion only to learn Quality Insurance may be a victim, too, of scammers stealing the business name to legitimize their scheme. The person who answered the phone at Quality Insurance in Ohio said they know the name is used quite a bit across the country. They told us their Ohio-based business would have no reason to call Vermont and they are not licensed in the state of Vermont.

"The criminals are brazen. They are targeting everyone and anyone," Pieciak said.

He says the scammers don't really even want you to buy their phony insurance policies. What they're after is the personal information you would share with your insurer.

"Once that information is out there, then criminals have it and they can buy and sell it with each other," Pieciak explained.

Bottom line-- if you get a call like this, hang up. Giving out any information-- even seemingly innocuous info-- could put you at risk.