ROANOKE—“I’m sorry Ma’am, but your loan cannot be approved at this time. The Better Business Bureau has put a hold on your checking account. If you can send us an additional payment…”
The Virginia consumer hung up the phone. Three days, and $215.00 later she gave up hope she would ever see her pre-approved $5,000.00 payday loan. She had been scammed.
A payday loan scam is now using the Better Business Bureau name in an attempt to rob loan applicants of hundreds of dollars. The Better Business Bureau has no connection with any loan or loan application of any kind and does not have the ability, or the inclination, to put a hold on a consumer’s bank account. Any use of the BBB name in such a manner is an attempt by a scammer to appear legitimate and trustworthy.
According to the consumer, after applying online for a payday loan, she was instantly contacted by a company claiming to be “Payday America” with the news she had been approved for a $5,000.00 loan. The company required a $100 Green Dot prepaid money card as a “show of good faith” before sending her funds. After sending in the money, she was told her funds would be available within 24 hours. When the funds did not arrive the next day, she received a call from the same number, now saying that her social security number had been red-flagged. Another $115.00 prepaid money card would remove the block. On the third day the scammers used the BBB name.
“No matter what agency or company name these individuals use, never send money upfront,” said Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of BBB Serving Western VA. “Legitimate loan vendors will never request upfront fees to process a loan. Once a consumer wires funds to a company, or gives out prepaid money card numbers, the funds are impossible to get back and the loan will never arrive.”
The BBB reminds loan seekers to keep the following tips in mind:
• Start with trust. Check the business review of any lender with the BBB and your state agency that regulates financial institutions prior to entering into a transaction with them.
• Beware “guaranteed approval” claims. Legitimate lenders won’t offer guarantees or promises of acceptance prior to application. This is especially true if you have a poor credit history or no credit record at all.
• Never give out financial information to anyone you are unfamiliar with via phone, email or other means.
• Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Money wires and pre-paid money cards are the same as cash and are close to impossible to recover.
• Keep in mind that it is against the law for a company to ask you to pay, or accept payment, for the company’s services until you receive your loan.
If you feel you have been the victim of a payday loan scam, contact:
• The Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov
• Your state Attorney General, in Virginia call the Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 552-9963 or visit the consumer protection website at http://www.oag.state.va.us/Consumer%20Protection/
• File a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov.
• Contact your Better Business Bureau. In Western VA call (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501. You can also visit www.bbb.org.
If you need more information, contact the BBB at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501. You can also visit www.bbb.org.