The Department of Housing and Urban Development has ordered a Phoenix mortgage company to stop using the HUD logo in its mailings.
Earlier this month, Terra Quest Mortgage Corp. sent post cards to 2,000 King County residents.
The mailings, which used the HUD logo, told consumers to call an 800 number immediately, and included phrases that lent a sense of urgency, such as ``Priority Notification,'' ``Response Required,'' ``Important Notice on Reverse Side.''
The post cards also said:
``Our records indicate that you are the mortgagor of record and may be eligible to apply for mortgage payment reduction under HUD . . .'' The notice cited HUD regulation numbers, which could lead recipients to believe they are hearing from the government agency.
The sender's name was abbreviated as ``TQMC'' and carried no return address. The only means of identification was the phrase ``mortgage reduction center'' and the Phoenix postal permit.
Diana W. Goodwin Shavey, HUD's regional director here, wrote Terra Quest:
``You may not be aware, but there is a federal criminal statute that prohibits the use of the letters `HUD' or the words `Department of Housing and Urban Development' alone or with other words or letters, reasonably calculated to convey the false impression that your business has some connection with, or authorization from FHA or HUD, which does not, in fact exist.''
Shavey also told Terra Quest that her agency believes the advertising is improper and if it continues, HUD would refer the matter to the Department of Justice for action.
Terra Quest notified its marketing firm to stop using the government agency's logo, said Dean Thomas, president of Terra Quest.
Thomas told The Troubleshooter that his company, also known as National Mortgage Reduction Center, researches public records to find loans that originated during high-interest-rate periods, then works with them to refinance.
``It is determined, at the caller's request, if there is a reduction of interest rate available and what program could work for them. If they wish, a personal appointment is set with the Bellevue office,'' Thomas said.
There is nothing inappropriate about seeking business clients. But it is inappropriate to lead potential customers to believe they are dealing with Uncle Sam, when they are not.
Send her `Seattle!'
S.C., Ballard: You may order the video, ``Seattle! The Electric Postcard'' from Front Street Productions, 2451 Second Ave. W., Seattle, 98119, phone 282-4065, or numerous retail locations. It ranges in price from about $10 to $18.
We like your idea of sending the video to your daughter, who is serving in Operation Desert Shield, so her colleagues may have a look at her hometown.
Send her holiday greetings from us, too.
A dispute of facts
E.W., North King County: The travel agency with which you dealt has refunded $250 of your original $500 deposit.
You say you're entitled to a bigger refund because the agency didn't tell you about a $90 surcharge per person in advance. The travel agent says he's not going to refund any more money.
It sounds to us as if you have a dispute of the facts. We'll send you literature about Small Claims Court.
M.A.L., Mercer Island: United Vacations of Culver City, Calif., has given you a refund of $266, representing the difference between the ocean view room you had paid for on the island of Kauai, and the garden view you actually got.
C.T.T., South Seattle: Tee Off Time of Portland, Ore., says it has sent you the books and cards.
M.F., Malaga, Chelan County: Media One Inc. says you'll receive a full refund, including service charges, for the concert canceled by Randy Travis that was scheduled at the Champs de Brionne Summer Music Theater. Media One says other consumers already have been given their refunds, and apologizes for the delay.
Shelby Gilje's Troubleshooter column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday in the Scene section of The Times.