Saturday, March 10, 2012

Real estate letters do not inspire confidence

Like most people, we get a lot of unwanted mail at our house. But two items that showed up yesterday struck me as particularly unusual.

The first was a thick envelope from Anchor Seaport Escrow of Long Beach, Calif.  The letter on the top began, "Thank you for selecting Anchor Seaport Escrow to process your escrow." One problem: We didn't select Anchor Seaport to process our escrow. In fact, we don't even have an escrow to process.

The rest of the envelope included two sets of "Loan Escrow Instructions," plus a form that asked for the kind of information that an identity thief would consider a gold  mine: social security numbers, driver's license numbers, birthdates, names of former spouses, and a history of addresses and occupations.

I actually don't think this was an identity theft ploy, just a strange misfire that reflects badly on Anchor Seaport Escrow. You rely on escrow companies to handle large financial transactions carefully and accurately, but this one not only sent this package out by mistake, it also botched my wife's name throughout the documents.

The letter also had these odd sentences: "All documents should be signed EXACTLY as your name(s) appear. Should your name(s) be misspelled, sign them correctly and advise us in writing when you return these papers." Um, so sign EXACTLY as your name is shown but don't. That's really clear. (Here's a crazy idea: Don't misspell my name in the first place.)

The second item also came from the real estate field. The letter starts: "Please contact us today concerning your current home loan with Wachovia Mtg Fsb."  Two problems: It never says who the "us" is in "contact us" and we don't have a home loan with Wachovia in fact, Wachovia Mortgage doesn't even exist anymore (it was taken over by Wells Fargo three years ago).

There's no company name in the return address or in the chipper sales pitch. The fine print refers to a "Pacific Platinum Properties," but it's unclear if that's the company that sent the letter. And when I called the toll-free number, I got a recording with a male voice that said, "You have reached Thomas voice mail." Can you say "shady operation"?

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