LEWISTON — Evelyn Ehrenfried received a letter in her mail warning that her property’s home warranty “may be or may have already expired.”

She’s at risk of “being financially liable for any and all repairs,” but there’s time, the bright pink letter states, to activate a service contract.

Ehrenfried doesn’t have a home warranty. She does have homeowners insurance.

The pink letter contains no company name other than AWG, Home Warranty Division. There’s no return address.

The letter says she must respond by June 18.

Evelyn Ehrenfried of Lewiston got some mail she didn’t want: a letter warning she must pay her property’s home warranty, or it will expire. “It’s a scam,” she said. She has insurance through a legitimate company. Bonnie Washuk/Sun Journal

“It’s scary,” said Ehrenfried, 81. “They’re looking for seniors.”

Ehrenfried contacted the Sun Journal out of concern there could be others her age who get the letter, become frightened “and run to the bank” or give out their credit card numbers. “This isn’t right,” she said. “There’s so much scams going on these days.”

The letter was shared with William Lund, head of the state’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection.

“I cannot say whether this is a scam in terms of whether the company may provide a valuable service for money charged,” Lund said. But, he called Ehrenfried “a very smart cookie. She picked up on many of the clues that often accompany sham product or service offerings.”

They include:

• The letter contains no mailing address for the company. “In fact, it contains no name for the company!” Lund wrote in an email.

• By using bright pink paper, and by creating a June 18 deadline, the letter creates a false sense of urgency.

• The unnamed company says it “reserves the right to revoke your eligibility” after five days. The letter, Lund said, is a mass mailing. “It’s likely that 99 percent of recipients never had an existing home warranty.”

A call to the number on the pink letter was answered by Aegis Home Warranty Group. A man answering questions about the letter said it is not a scam, it is “marketing.”

Asked why Ehrenfried was told her home warranty was about to expire when she does not have a warranty, the Aegis representative said there is “verbage” on the letter that receivers may not have a policy. The bottom of the letter, in small print, reads: “Not all consumers have previous coverage.” 

Consumers are at risk of paying for home repairs if they don’t have a warranty, he said.

The representative said Aegis has been in business for three years and is registered with the Better Business Bureau. It is located in Missouri.

The BBB link on the company showed six customer reviews, a few positive, but most not, and 13 complaints. Several complainants said their elderly parents were taken advantage of. One said their elderly mother was paying for a home warranty even though she no longer had a home and lived in a senior living community.

The premise of the pink letter is fictional, Lund said, “and the tiny disclaimer (with the smallest print on the page) does not change that fact.”

Ehrenfried wondered how the sender got her name and address.

Names and addresses are available almost anywhere, Lund said, starting with property tax records available on most municipal websites. Names and addresses are also available from companies that compile information from magazine sales and other sources, Lund said. 

His office has seen similar solicitations for auto warranties. Consumers often get confused because they think the notices are from their insurers. “A careful reading of those letters tells them otherwise,” he said.