Monday, December 28, 2020

A Georgia marketing operation must stop sending mailers targeting older Iowans after actions by the Attorney General’s Office and the Iowa Insurance Division. The operation also agreed to pay the state of Iowa $40,000 and change its practices. 

Miller’s office reached a consent judgment in December with Direct Mail Processing, LLC, and Rehg Data Assets, Inc., both of Marietta, Ga., and an assurance of voluntary compliance with three executives —  Katherine J. Rehg, Nathan Addesa, and Shannon T. Beekman —  who are affiliated with one or more of the companies.  

In addition, the Iowa Insurance Division issued a cease-and-desist order Dec. 21 to prevent the operations from sending solicitations to Iowans or attempting to sell insurance in the state.  

"We appreciate the hard work and collaborative effort that the Iowa Attorney General's Office has shown on this issue," said Chance McElhaney, Iowa Insurance Division communications director. "The Iowa Insurance Division is committed to holding companies and individuals accountable for their deceptive acts and practices in the business of insurance. Iowa is leading the way by sending a strong message to all companies throughout the country that these types of practices are not acceptable in our state."  

Documents filed by the state show how the operation worked:  

An insurance salesperson contacts Rehg Data Assets to select a template mailer to be sent to older consumers.  

The templates have markings that resemble an official government document. For example, one mailer stated: “You may qualify for a state-regulated program to pay for final expenses. … This benefit will pay for 100% of all funeral expenses up to $35,000. This payment is tax-free for Iowa residents.” Another read, “As a resident of Iowa, you are entitled to more benefits not provided by government funds.”  

No insurance company is mentioned, and the return form goes to Direct Mail Processing. 

If a consumer returns the card, they get a telemarketing call from the salesperson. Rehg Data gets paid for every lead generated. 

Rehg Data and Direct Mail Processing sent thousands of mailers to older Iowans in 2017 and 2018, records show.  

The defendants denied they violated the Consumer Fraud Act and targeted older Iowans, but agreed to the settlement. In addition, they will pay for a monitor —  former Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus —  to ensure compliance with the terms of the settlement. 

No Iowans are believed to have bought insurance as a consequence of the solicitations, although several hundred did return the card seeking their personal information. 

The case is similar to one in 2019, in which the Iowa Attorney General’s office sued an Arizona printing company and a Missouri insurance agency for sending out deceptive mailers advertising “FREE government benefits.”  

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