Attorney General Tong Announces Enforcement Action Against Deceptive Home Warranty Company(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong today announced that Integrity Admin Group, Inc. will pay $10,000 and end its misleading marketing practices following an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General into the company’s home warranty notices.
An investigation showed that Integrity Admin Group attempted to lure homeowners into paying for services through misleading, high-pressure mailings. The letters sought to create a false sense of urgency, with phrases like “final notice,” and “immediate response requested.” They threatened “finance charges” and falsely warned that the homeowner would be “financially liable” unless they purchased a warranty. The letters falsely implied that the homeowner already had a home warranty that would expire if they did not immediately contact the company. Some letters contained a fake “voucher” made to look like a check that could be immediately redeemed.
In a settlement reached this week, Integrity Admin Group has agreed to pay $10,000 and has committed to a series of injunctive terms ending their deceptive marketing practices. The company must cease stating or implying in any way that they are associated with any mortgage lender or government entity, must cease stating without factual basis that a customer currently has a home warranty that will expire, must cease references to false deadlines and final notices, and may not send documents falsely resembling checks.
“Integrity Admin Group attempted to lure consumers into purchasing home warranties through a series of high-pressure lies. Our settlement today puts a stop to these manipulative mailers, and sends a strong warning to any other company engaging in these types of deceptive practices. If you receive a home warranty notice with these types of misleading claims, do not respond and file a complaint with my office,” said Attorney General Tong.
A home warranty is a type of service contract, also called an extended warranty, that promises to pay out money in the event a homeowner needs to repair or replace components in their home. While some home warranty companies may offer legitimate services, consumers should be cautious. Home warranties may cost hundreds of dollars per year but not provide the coverage homeowners expect, may cover items that are already warrantied, and may impose high deductibles and service fees.
Consumers considering a home warranty may wish to consider the following advice:
• Don’t confuse a home warranty with homeowner’s insurance, which mortgage lenders typically require. Homeowner’s insurance covers property damage or liability in the event of an accident; a home warranty generally only provides for repairs or replacement to certain items in your home such as appliances.
• Consider whether you need a warranty. Is there already a manufacturer’s warranty on big-ticket items such as appliances? Does the credit card you used to purchase an appliance provide a warranty? If you built a new home, is the builder’s warranty still in effect?
• Decide whether it makes financial sense to buy a warranty. What is the cap on what the company will pay out when you need it? Do the premiums, deductibles, and service fees exceed what it would cost you to repair or replace items on your own?
• Read the fine print. Are there exclusions that make the warranty less useful, such as for damage caused by wear and tear, manufacturer defects, or natural disasters? Does the warranty provide for replacement of damaged items, or only repairs? Do you get to choose the contractor who makes the repair?
• Look for consumer reviews about the warranty company. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a good place to look: have others reported difficulties with customer service, or getting the warranty company to pay claims?
• Above all, do not be pressured to sign up on the spot.
Consumers may file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General online here: https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/
Assistant Attorney General Joseph Gasser, Legal Investigator Caylee Ribeiro, and Deputy Associate Attorney General Michael Wertheimer, Chief of the Consumer Protection Section assisted the Attorney General in this matter.
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