DCBS Media Release
May 9, 1997
Insurance commissioner orders company to cease activities
(Salem) Oregon Insurance Commissioner Kerry Barnett has issued a cease and desist order requiring a Texas company to halt illegal insurance sales practices targeting senior citizens in Oregon.
Acc-U-Lead, Inc., which operates under the name "United States Senior Services," is not licensed to do business in Oregon either as an insurance company or as an insurance agent. The company has distributed various business reply mailers to Oregon residents since at least April, 1996 advertising life insurance or Medicare supplement health insurance. Each mailer asked the recipient to complete an accompanying card with personal information and mail the card to receive additional information about the insurance. Mailers relating to life insurance also asked recipients to specify how much life insurance they wanted. The mailers were postage paid and pre-addressed to either the "National Processing Center," "National Data Research Center," or "U.S.S.S. - National Data Research Center," P.O. Box 516039, Dallas, TX 75251-9931.
Mailers received in 1996 had statements like "Social Security Update," "[Important] 1996 Medicare Update," or "Important 1997 Information" printed on the outside of the mailers. Mailers received in 1997 also contained symbols identical to the United States seal printed on the inside of the mailers. All of the mailers indicated that postage fees were paid by "U.S.S.S."
These statements, names and symbols together created the impression that the mailers were from a United States government agency and contained information about changes in Social Security or Medicare benefits. The mailers relating to Medicare supplement health insurance also failed to identify the name of the actual insurer and the policy form number.
Oregon law prohibits companies or agents from: selling insurance products without a license; advertising such products in a manner that would tend to confuse consumers into believing the advertiser is a government agency; and/or failing to clearly identify the name of the insurer offering to provide the insurance coverage advertised. (ORS 744.051, and OARs 836-20-220 and -260.)
Insurance Commissioner Barnett's cease and desist order – instructing the company to stop the above activities – was mailed to Acc-U-Lead and its president and sole officer, Ronald Morgan, on May 1, 1997. The company has 20 days to submit a written request for a hearing. If it does not, the order will automatically become final.
"We will not tolerate misleading business practices in the Oregon insurance market," Barnett said.
Consumers with complaints or questions about companies or agents selling insurance products in Oregon can call the state Insurance Division at 503-947-7980.