On Your Side Alert: Suspicious mail claims Medicare connection

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - When a suspicious piece of mail appearing to be from Medicare showed up in local mailboxes, NBC12's team of investigators went to work.

The notice from the National Reply Center in Indianapolis could be waiting in your mailbox when you get home.  It claims to have important information about Medicare. You're told to act right away by submitting some personal information. But should you respond?

Postal Inspector Michael Romano says don't be fooled by urgency words written on the piece of mail. He says companies use this as a tactic to get people to respond. Romano confirms the letter is not from Medicare. In fact, in small print, the company sending out the mailer says it's not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or any state agency.

"If the company is using legal disclaimers, even if it is in small print, then they can say we have gone through the efforts of at least advising the public of the situation," Inspector Romano explained.

The National Reply Center doesn't appear to have any contact information other than a post office box. The Better Business Bureau also says it hasn't been able to track down anyone with the company. Consumer experts say these are all red flags.

National Reply Center has an "F" rating with the BBB because it hasn't responded  to complaints, and there's just not enough information about the company.

Romano said it appears the company is after your personal information and could eventually sell it to third party companies for marketing purposes.

"This is one of those that it is not a violation of the mail fraud statute at this point. It is more or less a buyer beware situation for the consumer. Consumers really need to be aware of what they are getting involved in; reading the fine print. It is a solicitation for information," Romano said.

Unless you know exactly where the information is going, who's collecting and how it's going to be used, don't give it up.