Warning about auto warranty offers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Maybe you've gotten one of those car warranty expiration offers in the mail. Consumer advocates say many of them are traps, attempts to get you to sign up for something you may not need or you could end up with little coverage. We found out how the offers end up in your mailbox and how to determine a real, versus a deceptive offer.

If you have car, there's a good chance one of these offers has popped-up in your mail. They grab your attention with phrases like, request for immediate action or time sensitive material enclosed. The pitch, your car warranty is about to expire and they can provide coverage. Michael Allen, with Virginia Auto Dealers Association says be suspicious. He says, "If you see and envelope and you can't tell who it is from, that should send up a little bit of a red flag automatically."

Allen says there are legitimate offers out there but typically the notices are from companies trying to fool you. If you fall for it, you could end up with less coverage than you think you are getting. "Illegitimate companies want to take in your money and they don't want to pay anything out. There sole goal is to keep every dime that they get."

These offers can come from anywhere and the companies can get your information from online searches, public records and from companies that buy and sell customer data. Experts warn if you get one of these notices from one state in particular be on alert. Allen says, "immediately, if it is coming out of Missouri you probably want to be a little suspect. Unfortunately right now, and Missouri is trying to fix it, they have been a hot-bed for some of these."

A key to avoid trouble and decided what's legit and what's a deceptive offer, look for identifying information. If you can't easily I. D. the company sending the offer, that's a problem. Reputable companies want you to know who they are. Also, read the fine print, make sure you fully understand the offer and have a grasp of what's being covered and what's not. Allen says, "I don't think I would call it a scam. There are some deceptive practices that are employed."

If you are looking for an extended warranty, the experts say your best bet, check with your car's manufacture or a local dealership. If you've already signed up for one of these suspect offers, this may not be the news you want to hear. Allen says, "In a lot of cases, they may be stuck with it. The first thing I would do is contact the BBB.

A little research before you act -- will save you time and money. Virginia Auto Dealers Association says another good tip if you are looking for an extended warranty for your car, check with you insurance company.

We provided the links below for more helpful tips.

FTC consumer publications - link

Vehicle Protection Association - link

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