In the last year there have been numerous articles and news stories across the country about fake settlement offers from insurance companies, in particular Nationwide Insurance. It’s quite clear that they’re fake because people are getting calls and letters about car accidents that they haven’t been in, or insurance companies that they don’t have a policy with. Here’s some information you should be aware of, and things to look out for.
Utah resident Jerrian Adams recently shared her own experience dealing with this type of fraudulent cases on KUTV. After getting a check for $1,300 from Nationwide, despite not being a customer, along with a letter explaining how she was also entitled to a $75,000 settlement. When she called the number listed, she was given less-than-convincing instructions that she needed to wire them money to get the funds she supposedly due. Thankfully, Adams caught on quick.
This is far from the typical experience in this situation. The problem has gotten so widespread that the Better Business Bureau put out an official statement to alert consumers about the scam. The fake settlement offers will often come with a check and a letter telling you to call about details. If you call, you’ll either be pressured into giving up private information or they will try to threaten you to do what they want. If you get a suspicious letter like this, you should contact the insurance company. However, don’t use the number on the letter – call from a number you find online or else you might find yourself being verbally threatened like Adams and others have in these cases. You can also contact the insurance commissioner to see if they’ve had similar complaints. If you’re represented by an attorney then you should contact them right away.
If you’ve been in an accident and are expecting money from an insurance company, getting a check and letter like this can make a confusing situation even more bewildering. But before you do anything, make sure you closely look at the document before signing it and inspect it for anything that may strike you as “odd”. A discerning eye will save you a lot of trouble. As a rule of thumb, if a third party is asking you to wire money in exchange for even more money – don’t. Chances are you won’t ever see anything back if you do.
Usually the insurance company will send payment for the vehicle first without a settlement agreement. Later, after you have finished treating, you will get a settlement agreement to finalize your claim. Some sneaky insurance companies – not scams like the fake Nationwide settlements – will even try to get you to waive all of your claims when they pay for the car. If you’re afraid this is happening, you should have an attorney review the paperwork before you cash the check.
Elsner Law Firm would be glad to review any paperwork you receive that seems suspect. And, if you find yourself in a legitimate settlement case, we can help you work through the legal process. We offer free consultations so we can hear your concerns and determine what next steps we could take. Reach out to us today.