I recently opened my home mail to find this letter from Assurity Financial Services, LLC. In bold, large font was this message.

When I called the number, I spoke to a very nice man, who read from a cleverly worded script. The script mixed the ideas that financial institutions are making mathematical mistakes at every turn and that the ‘sub prime lending tactics’ are taking advantage of consumers.

My Adjustable Rate Mortgage is through Verity Credit Union.

The math on all calculations are correct, legal, simple, well documented and clearly communicated.

Verity never got into the subprime market.

Granted, this letter never said either of these things but it certainly tried to imply both.

I asked the fellow on the phone if he had any information about my current loan (besides what is public record). He admitted he did not. I asked him why the letter said my loan had been “identified” if he knew nothing about it. He did not have an answer.

He assured me that, if I send all of my loan docs to him, for $250, they would try to get any monies owed me from Verity Credit Union and would get me into a better loan if possible.

I politely declined and hung up.

Through the years, I have talked to so many people who are concerned when they get letters like these. No, we did not sell your name. Mortgages are public record. No, your loan is not under investigation. They just tried to word it that way. No, we didn’t screw up or try to take advantage of you. They are simply not marketing responsibly.

Shari Storm

No biography available.

25 Responses

  1. Ginny Brady says:

    Shari, I appreciate your clearly written post on this bogus marketing ploy. All credit unions should be made aware of this type of scam. I will certainly make our management and board aware of your experience and the way your responded. I’m sure you’re not the only Verity member who has gotten this type of letter. Your response puts blame just where it belongs.

  2. Shari: What a story! Here’s how the firm craftily describes itself at their web site, http://www.assurityfinancial.com:

    “Assurity Financial Services, LLC is recognized by its peers as an industry leader in the residential finance sector…. Most important to us however, is that Assurity has become known as the trusted advisor who will make the dream of owning a home a reality through creative financing plans that meet the needs of both the first time homeowner and the experienced investor.”

    This writer shares your sense of disgust! Ron

  3. Tony Mannor says:

    Those solicitations drive me crazy!

    I get at least a one a week from a variety of sources. It is a shame that they can get away with being so blatantly misleading while the credit union is federally regulated to disclose everything.

    I am sure that people are falling for this otherwise there would be no “Phone Agent” to answer your questions.

    I hope karma kicks them in the hind parts.

  4. Reader says:

    Assurityfinancial uses a private domain registration (where their contact info is hidden through their registrar), which no honest financial institution would do.

    It wouldn’t hurt to get their address when they ask for a payment. It could then be forwarded to the authorities to track them down.

  5. Rick says:

    Thanks for the article. My wife just got a letter like what you recieved. I thought it might be worth looking into until I found this site. Slime Balls@!

  6. Maurice S says:

    Thank you for this post on a blatant scam. Ideally, I would like to hear about the next step: how can we spread the word to ensure others do not fall for such bogus tactics. Do you have any idea how they get the information in the first place?

  7. uknown says:

    i work for assurity and yes it is a scam to get you to refinance. we dont care about anything else but to get you to refi. there is no refund only way to get any refund is to sell your home or refi. thats what we swindle you into doing. and yes it is shady and yes someone needs to do something. i already quit this place last week

  8. shari storm says:

    @Maurice S – I asked Wendy Hovey, our resident mortage expert about your question and here is what she said, “When the lender records the legal loan documents with the county they become of public record. Marketers then access this public information or tax assessor information to develop their mailing database. Currently, the counties do not have a system for consumers to “opt out”. But consumers can register for “do not mail” (https://www.dmachoice.org) and “do not call” (https://www.donotcall.gov). These registrations will help curtail some of the mailings and calls but not all of them. Unfortunately, there are marketers who do not check the “do not mail or call” registration lists before they do their mailing and telemarketing.

  9. Martin says:

    I too used to work for Assurity. And I too took those calls. And yes the wording is misleading. But the statistics are absolutely on the money.

    Adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) involve changing index values and computer calculations that invite human and software errors. You probably took your lender’s figures at face value, but The Wall Street Journal, MONEY, Forbes, Newsweek and other leading publications have been warning consumers that miscalculations occur in up to one-half of all such mortgages. And, recent studies report that typical ARM overcharges range from $700 to $2,000!
    Since 1985, auditors have uncovered overcharges from $500 to more than $38,000.

    In the 80’s a gentleman came up with a computer software that could calculate you ARM and see if you were overcharged. He began selling this software and various companies began using techniques as described above. This is not news at has been around for almost 20 years and the bank, credit unions, mortgage companies and brokers have been overcharging people for decades. Margins and Rates are based on 1/8th of a point and rounding error do happen by both humans and computers. So while your reputable CU does not want to admit to making mistakes the chance are pretty good that they have made one.

    As I said before I used to work for them and I left because I beleive their marketing skirts the line. But what they are saying is true. about 1 out of every 3 ARM customers could be entitled to a refund and that refund can only be paid be refinancing or selling the home. Otherwise the mortgage company will credit it to you principle balance.

    Any questions Please feel free to write me at azbroncofn@gmail.com and I will be most happy to answer them free of charge.

  10. shari storm says:

    @martin – that is an interesting comment. The most interesting thing, I think, is that had Assurity said THAT to me in a letter, I may have taken them seriously and checked them out (instead of getting mad and blogging about them).

  11. cheri says:

    I too received this letter and when I called the company, Assurity Financial, I explained that I am receiving scams in the mail every day and that this sure feels like one. The man on the phone at Assurity assured me that they were legitimate. Later, I checked and found this. I did not send them anything. This is outrageous.

  12. Pam says:

    Is Assurity the only way to find out about a refund if one is due? There must be some other agency or the lender themselves (maybe) that could help a consumer take corrective action. I would like to follow up on my ARM but don’t want to go thru Assurity.

  13. Jackie 4 her Boss says:

    Thank goodness for this site. As a secretary, my boss does not have time to check this stuff out if it is bogus or not. He handed his letter with all of the above wording to me to check it out for him. Thankfully I found this site and saved his rear and my job. They advertise that they are a member of the Better Business Bureau- I searched- but could not find them in the database (at least not for my area) Thank you soooo much

  14. shari storm says:

    @Pam – clearly this post touched a nerve with consumers (and a some former Assurity employees). I have had a few commenters write in and say their company will do that for you. I am not going to post those comments though. I don’t know anything about the companies and don’t want it to appear as if Verity was endorsing them. I will keep my ear open for a credit union endorsed service like that and let you know if I find anything. @former Assurity employees who sent in comments – since your comments included names of current employees of a company I know nothing about, I’m not going to post them. My only beef with Assurity was the marketing piece they sent me. It would be irresponsible of me to make public individuals.

    But I do appreciate you stopping by the blog and leaving comments. I found them to be very interesting. Thank you.

  15. Ron Aguilar says:

    The tactics used by Assurity Financial sickens me. I have been a lender in good standing in the state of Utah with no complaints thus far. I have used direct mailing to homeowners and have always complied with state laws etc. The software to uncover overcharges is useful but I use it as a value add to my clients. My direct mail merely states that if anything is due then we can negotiate a fee that is reasonable to all parties. The software input takes about one to two hours depending on the volume. Good luck everyone

    Ron Aguilar

  16. Consumer says:

    The Washington state Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) is seeking to revoke the license of Assurity Financial Services LLC due to misleading mailings and consumer law violations:

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/354168_dfi08.html

  17. Chris says:

    Let me start by saying I have no affiliation with Assurity and just happened to stumble across this little blog. While I don’t believe in deceptive marketing practices or anything that would border on them, I find it absolutely amazing that so many of you are willing to take what is said here as gospel. I am also glad I stumbled across this little blog, it certainly gave me a good chuckle this morning further solidifying the fact that there are far too many idiots wandering around in this world.

    Thanks for the laugh everyone!

  18. pj says:

    Ditto here – got one of those letters in the mail tonight – started checking them out since it seemed fishy. I am going to contact the Virginia State Corporation Commission – listed at the bottom of their letter to see if they really do exist as well. I hate this crap!

  19. Who Knows says:

    I believe their marketing is genius. Shady? Maybe, but I’m sure it drives people to the phone. We all get junk in the mail everyday and most of us toss it with out a second thought. When I catch myself thinking about dialing on mail like this, I simply chuckle to myself. There’s some brilliant guy, locked away in an office somewhere thinking of a simple mailer that will make millions of people call and provide plenty of business for a company. We can either just toss these mailers, leading to these companies going broke, or we can be suckers and call.

    In ending, I too recieved a notice in regards to a refund from Assurity. Knowing full well it was junk mail, my playfull self called in to hear what type of pitch would be thrown at me (I also tend to call info-mercial phone lines to hear to some 16 year old try to sell me a vacum). We talked about refunds and overcharges and a REFI… DING DING DING.

    Genius marketing.

  20. shari storm says:

    @whoknows

    But did you refinance your house through a transaction that was so exceptional you recommended it to a friend?

    Short of that, I think “genius” might be too strong of a descriptor. I would recommend clever.

    However, based on the comments this post has generated, most that I cannot publish, I would say many consumers do not see this type of marketing as genius or clever.

    It’s been my experience that marketing, no matter how clever, cannot sustain a business over the long run if they do not offer true value to consumers.

    Time will tell.

  21. joeLender says:

    First it is funny how many people will start talking negatively about this situation before doing any homework. The country problems are partially based on what the American people hear, read, or see in the media and they never bother to verify any of it. Not so different to this blog.

    Second, Martin’s explanation was perfect. For those who want more info you could do a google search for mortgage auditing. You will find companies and free calculators that will help determine any possible overcharges or refunds.

    Third, you need to first understand the purpose of marketing from a business perspective not consumer. Marketing is intended to generate traffic in order to produce leads. The postcards get people to call. Once you call, a salesmen is suppose to take over. It sounds like the marketing is great but the salesmen was not.

    I am a Branch Manager for a mortgage company, though I do not participate in these types of campaigns, they do work and provide valuable leads to companies.

  22. shari storm says:

    @joelender –

    When I published this post, I talked only about one letter that I received. As a consumer, I received a letter that insinuated my Verity mortgage was under investigation. As an executive at Verity Credit Union, I know for a fact that my mortgage is not under any type of investigation. I think the response to this post is primarily a general reaction to getting this type of marketing (as opposed to a specific reaction to Assurity Financial – the comments specific to the company I will not publish).

    To your third point, I would disagree. Marketing is intended to generate revenue, not traffic.

    I have no doubt this type of marketing generates calls. I’ve also learned through this blog post that there are consumers who do not like this type of marketing.

    As the Chief Marketing Officer of the company that the letter implies is under investigation, I want to communicate to my members who may have received the same letters that there is no investigation.

    That is all.

  23. Vic says:

    I’m a little dumbfounded at some of the “disgust” that I see in your original post and the subsequent responses. I don’t see how this marketing was misleading or deceptive in any way. It said that your ARM loan was an overcharge RISK (look up risk) and that you should call to discuss any refund you MAY (look up may while you’re at it) be due. Nowhere does it state anything absolute. Nowhere does it state that you were definitely overcharged anything. As another poster stated, he also charges for the service of analyzing the ARM audit to determine overcharges, so them charging for it doesn’t strike me as unethical. Also stated by a poster was that the only way to get a refund of the overcharges, if any, is to pay off the ARM loan through refi or sale. So, are they soliciting you for a refi? Yes. It’s the only way you get your refund so why is that so offensive? Quite frankly in this market why wouldn’t you want to go into a fixed from an ARM? Unless…you work for the credit union where the ARM was originated and is serviced. Hmmm…speaking of questionable marketing techniques Shari, this entire blog looks to me to be a clever way to get your own company’s agenda out there while conveniently bashing the name and reputation of a competitor. You’re no better than anyone else trying to make a buck. Why aren’t you complaining about the countless “checks” we all get in the mail for $370,000 that are a solicitation to refi? Or the “preapproved” credit cards that we’re not really preapproved for? Get off your soapbox sister and don’t hurt yourself patting your own back for your highly scrupulous marketing practices. You’re not fooling anyone.

    p.s. have you run an ARM audit on yourself? If not, how are you so sure of this statement you made: The math on all calculations are correct, legal, simple, well documented and clearly communicated.

  24. shari storm says:

    @vic – I stand by my intent of the post – to communicate with my membership base these facts:

    1. Mortgages are public record and that is how Verity Credit Union ends up on marketing pieces such as these.

    2. Verity Credit Union mortgages have not been “identified” for unscrupulous or careless actions by any regulatory agencies. We are not under investigation for anything.

    When describing the letter and my conversation, I chose my words carefully; using “implied” and “insinuated” purposefully.

    This post is not representative of the overall tone of this blog. In the interest of moving on, I’m going to close comments for this post.

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