The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) issued this scam ALERT.
Alert Number: CA050055_03/27/2019(3/20)
Updated: April 02, 2019
Originally posted: October 26, 2012
Also Doing Business As:
- Advance America
- Advance America Payday Loans
- Cash America
- Cash Advance of America
- Cash Advance USA
- Speedy Cash
Note: “Advance America” Should Not Be Confused with Advance America, Cash Advance Centers of Washington, LLC, Which Is A Licensed Lender In Washington
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) warns consumers to never give any nonpublic person information, such as social security number, credit card, or bank account information to any individual, website, or company without first verifying their identity and license status. Consumers can determine whether a financial services company or individual is properly licensed to conduct business in the State of Washington by using the “Verify a License” feature on the DFI’s website at http://www.dfi.wa.gov/consumers/findcompany.htm. Consumers can also check license status with the Department of Licensing at www.dol.wa.gov.
DFI has received reports of apparent scams conducted by individuals claiming to represent Advance America, Cash America, Cash Advance America, Cash Advance USA, Speedy Cash, and Advance America Payday Loans.
Numerous consumers received phone calls and/or email messages from people claiming to represent Cash Advance America, Cash America, and Advance America Payday Loans where the callers offered loans in exchange for upfront fees. Although several consumers never applied for a payday loan, the callers insisted that they were calling to discuss the consumers’ online payday loan applications. One consumer reported that, when she refused to wire money to the caller, the caller threatened legal action against her. Several other consumers paid the upfront fee but did not receive the loan promised. At least one consumer also received a similar loan offer via e-mail.
Two consumers reported receiving a call from an individual claiming to represent Cash Advance America. In one case, the consumer was told they would receive a deposit and was instructed to purchase iTunes gift cards and send them to the caller. The consumer complied with the caller’s requests; however no loan was provided. In the second case, the consumer was told to purchase a Google Play gift card from a local retailer in order to prove the consumer could repay the loan. The consumer purchased an Amazon gift card instead when the consumer suspected it may be a scam. The consumer contacted the alleged representative who the consumer identified as Brian Jones. When she told Mr. Jones she purchased a different type of gift card the consumer stated that Mr. Jones became very upset with her.
Several consumers were contacted by people claiming that they were collecting a debt owed to Cash Advance America, Advance America, or Speedy Cash. One consumer reported receiving multiple harassing phone calls. The caller claimed that the consumer owed a debt for a 2007 payday loan but refused to provide any other details about the debt. The consumer reported that he did not take out any payday loans in 2007. In another case, a consumer received a text message demanding payment. That consumer reported that he never had a loan.
Two consumers reported receiving emails from individuals claiming to represent Cash Advance USA. The emails indicated that the consumers owed on an alleged debt and needed to pay immediately to avoid further action. Both consumers reported never obtaining a loan with Cash Advance USA.
In two other separate cases, consumers received an email that claimed the “Semrad Law Firm” would be handling the collection if the consumer did not pay a settlement. One email stated that it was from “Kristen Johnson” in the “Accounting Department,” and the other stated “Nik Ramon” in the “Settlement Department.”
In another case, a consumer received a letter that claimed “Pacific Legal Group” would be handling the collection if the consumer did not pay a settlement. The letter threatened that a civil action had already been filed and criminal action and wage garnishment would be forthcoming if the settlement amount was not paid immediately.
“PACIFIC LEGAL GROUP” SHOULD NOT BE CONFUSED WITH THE FOLLOWING SIMILARLY NAMED BUSINESSES:
- Pacific Legal Group, PC (San Francisco, CA)
Pacific Legal Group, PC has provided the following statement to consumers regarding their business activities: “At the present time, Pacific Legal Group, PC has no clients in Washington State, but we do offer legal representation in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to Washington State residents. Pacific Legal Group, PC does not make any unsolicited telephone calls to consumers. All telephone calls made from our firm also include caller ID with our mail telephone number: (415) 746-1470.”
- Pacific Legal Group (Provo, UT)
Pacific Legal Group has provided the following statement to consumers regarding their business activities: “Pacific Legal Group” located in Huntington Beach California is NOT associated with Pacific Legal Group, a registered d/b/a/ of Avery Burdsal and Fale, PC with offices in Utah. While the Huntington Beach business has used similar name, logo, and font as Pacific Legal Group in the past, Pacific Legal Group’s web address referenced in all communication is [www.pac-legal.com.] Further, all communication from Pacific Legal Group will also reference the Utah phone number (801) 788-4122, and the offices in Utah. Additionally, we do not typically do debt collection work.”
- Pacific Legal Foundation (Bellevue, WA and Sacramento, CA)
- Pacifica Law Group (Seattle, WA)
- Pacific Legal Group (Bangkok, Thailand)
These apparent scams are associated with the following contact information:
P.O. Box 1474 Huntington Beach, CA 92647
DFI cautions that unlicensed entities often engage in certain practices that indicate they are committing a fraud or otherwise violating Washington State law. For instance, such entities often use non-business email addresses (such as -@gmail.com, @yahoo.com, or other similar easily obtained email addresses) to send correspondence, threaten legal or criminal action if consumers do not reply immediately, or contain a variety of typographical and spelling errors in their correspondence to consumers.
However, at times, e-mails or letters from unlicensed entities engaging in fraudulent activity will contain accurate personal information, such as current or past addresses, active phone numbers, or social security numbers. The Department encourages consumers who receive communications containing personal information to contact their banks, credit-reporting agencies, and the Social Security Administration to ensure there is no unauthorized activity on their accounts.
Debt Collection Laws
If you received a loan from a lender or owed money to a business and someone other than the lender or business is now attempting to collect from you, the collection activity may be subject to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If you receive a communication from a party claiming that a debt is owed, you should request a “written validation notice,” which must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor you owe, and your rights under the FDCPA. If you have questions regarding debt collection laws, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP, or online at www.ftc.gov.
If someone threatens to garnish your wages, contact your employer, or uses threatening, intimidating, or offensive language, report such actions to state and federal regulators. See below for how to contact the appropriate state and federal regulator.
Report Suspicious Activity, Scams or Fraud
Washington State residents only: If you suspect illegal or fraudulent activity involving a financial product or service, please contact the Department at 1-877-RING-DFI (746-4334), or online at www.dfi.wa.gov.
If you feel you have been the victim of a scam, please contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or online at www.ftc.gov; or contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (855) 411-CFPB (2372) or online at www.consumerfinance.gov. You may also wish to contact the Office of the Attorney general at www.atg.wa.gov.
If you feel you have been the victim of a scam involving the internet please contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center online at www.ic3.gov.
If you live in another state, go to this webpage to find the regulator in your home state. http://mortgage.nationwidelicensingsystem.org/consumer/Pages/AgencyContacts.aspx