Monday, July 30, 2007

Farmers Insurance Invades Consumer Privacy

An Open Letter to Farmers Insurance

To: Paul N. Hopkins
Chief Executive Officer
Farmers Group, Inc.

Dear Mr. Hopkins:

First let me say that we are not presently customers of Farmers Insurance.
And if this is the irresponsible way your marketing department works, we never will be again.

It seems Farmers Insurance started a new marketing campaign last week.

Today (Monday) we received two communications from agents with your company.

The first one was somewhat annoying, it was a letter coming from an agent in Glendale, California and contained a great deal of information about our home - address, square footage and year it was built. It was a solicitation to buy insurance from Farmers. It contained a list of potential coverages, showing the value of dwelling, structures, landscaping and so forth.

It was annoying for two reasons:

1) We are not happy your agents are pulling this information about us without our permission. It feels like a personal violation.

2) It's yet another thing with excessive personal information thatwe must take the time to shred, instead of simply throw out. We are not thrilled, but...a sad reflection on the current state ofmarketing, it's something we're used to seeing.

However, the second piece we received in the same mailbox was inexcusable.

It was from XXXX XXXX Agency
Woodland Hills, California
(Note: I will not violate his privacy)

It contained all that same information - on a postcard.
With our home address (the address of the property) on the face of the card and on the back, on top of all that information with the the value of dwelling, structures, landscaping and so forth.

How DARE your agent or Farmers or anyone put this kind of information out into the public view in an era when identity theft is rampant.

Is it really necessary to take this to Congress to increase already asphyxiating Privacy Laws? Isn't there room for common sense and common decency in your marketing department, without legislation?

It almost makes us feel as if Farmers is not in the protection industry, but the protection racket.

Remove us from ALL your solicitation lists at once.

And stop this practice of making anyone's private information public. If you must engage in these marketing practices, at least have the decency to establish a policy of keeping the information inside envelopes, like the first agent did.

Frankly, it does not make the agency look well-informed. It makes the sender look disconcertingly intrusive.

Looking forward to your reply. Please note, this letter is published in the Tax Insider tonight.

Hopefully, by this Friday's issue of Ask TaxMama, I will be able to add your reply that this is not Farmers' policy and will not be happening again.

Eva Rosenberg, EA

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