I received an odd postcard about “your recently closed mortgage.” This was interesting because I didn’t have a “recently closed mortgage.” Well, there was the one I did back in 2000.
The postcard looked very much like the image shown here except for some small details. Mine mentioned that the mortgage was “recorded on August 16, 2021.” But my version did not mention any specific financial institution. Same phone number, though.
Heartland Bank noted that it “did not sell your personal information.” Also, “We would not send confidential account information on a postcard. Account information will always be mailed in a sealed envelope with our logo, sent via an encrypted email, or we will call you directly.”
Wauna Credit Union also clarifies the situation. “Often times, scammers will pull what’s called the ‘phantom help’ maneuver, where they’ll encourage you to reduce or even stop your mortgage payments while they work to lessen your costs (for a moderate fee, of course). Unfortunately, by the time you realize you’re being taken advantage of, the phantom helper is long gone.”
My card also has this same H.W.C. text. “If you look reeeeeeally closely in the bottom right-hand corner of the examples we’ve provided, you’ll see an ‘All information provided by H.W.C.’ and a ‘Not affiliated with…’ disclosure. Problem is you can grow old searching for information about H.W.C. and come back with nothing solid.”
Wauna makes the calls
I thought to call the number, but my wife thought I ought not. Fortunately, Wauna was willing. “In fact, we tried all the numbers we were able to find. Some connect to a live person, others are recordings, and one dialed directly to an automated system. Regardless of which number, we were eventually probed for personal information. Funny enough, these fraudsters refuse to give out any information about themselves, or even the actual company they are working with.”
American Southwest Credit Union, First Guaranty Bank, and First Federal Savings Bank have been among the entities misrepresented, going back at least since December 2018.
In fact, the action is SO pervasive, here’s a generic denial letter. This discussion expressed the outrage of a victim. “How in the world is this even legal? Shame on them, shame on the government for letting this happen, shame on the post office for delivering it knowing fully well it’s S-C-A-M!! SCAM SCAM SCAM!!”
Someone responded: “The government can’t stop these, and the post office can’t legally discard your mail. Yes, it’s a scam, but the only thing you can do about it is throw it away.” So I have. Burned it, actually.