Dear Consumer Ed:

I received a postcard saying that my car warranty is about to expire with an offer to have it renewed.  How do I know if this is legitimate?

Consumer Ed says:

Don’t take these postcards at face value. Despite the impression they may give, these solicitations are usually not offers to extend your existing warranty, and they usually don’t come from the vehicle manufacturer.  Instead, what you likely received is a solicitation for a vehicle service contract from a warranty company or its marketing partner.  Many of these companies use high pressure tactics to try to convince consumers to buy an overpriced warranty. So, how can you be sure whether the offer is legitimate or not?

* First, check your files.  If your records indicate that your warranty is not actually due to expire soon, that’s a red flag. 

* Review the postcard carefully to see if it lists the name of the company selling the warranty.  If you are still uncertain, place a call directly to the vehicle manufacturer or the dealership from which you purchased your car and see if the offer came from them. 

* Keep in mind that only the manufacturer can extend its original warranty.  A separate company can provide you with a vehicle service contract, which they may refer to as an “extended warranty,” but it is not a continuation of the warranty you had from the vehicle manufacturer. If a company tells you otherwise, walk away.

* Finally, never give out your financial information, social security number, driver’s license number, or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) unless you know who you are dealing with.

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