Verona Police are asking township residents to exercise caution regarding a letter from a home repair company that is being mailed to them designed to look like an official correspondence from a government agency.
The letter, sent from HomeServe USA Repair Management Corp., claims the water line coming from the township into resident’s homes may not be covered by residents homeowners insurance in case of breakage or damage.
The letter further says homeowners may be liable for thousands of dollars in costs to replace the line if there is a problem with it.
Residents first started receiving the letters late last year or earlier this year, according to Capt. Mitchell Stern of the Verona Police Department.
The township’s public works department first received inquiries about the issue and passed those concerns on to police, Stern said.
The Verona Police Department has not opened an inquiry into the letters, but police are warning residents to “make sure who they’re doing business with,” Stern said, adding police receive reports of these type of letters every year.
Stern said the letters were sent as bulk mail from HomeServe to township residents but couldn’t say if the letters singled out seniors.
Homeserve’s senior vice president and spokesman Myles Meehan disputed the Miami-based company was trying to scam residents.
“This is a legitimate company working in 41 states,” Meehan said, “with more than 1 million customers coast to coast with 1.6 million contracts.”
Meehan said the company, which has been serving customers in New Jersey since 2004, offers water and sewer line protection plans as well as heating and air conditioning services, adding the company is independent and not affiliated with government agencies.
“We have no relationship with local utilities,” he said, “but offer our services as a partnership and we make that very clear in all of our solicitations.”
In the past, Meehan said, the company’s marketing materials were “unclear,” an issue he said the company has worked with several state's attorney generals, citing Ohio, when a “small number of homeowners in 2010 had questions about mailed materials.”
Meehan said the materials were changed and made clearer.
“We were not sued and we admitted no wrongdoing,” Meehan said.
Stern said his advice to Verona residents who need home repairs or work is to check with a neighbor who has had similar work done and get the name of a reliable contractor.
The best way to deal with home repairs, Stern said, is to go by a neighbor’s recommendation.