The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has received a complaint of what appears to be a debt collection scam.
The consumer reported receiving threatening calls from a company claiming to be “GM & Associates.” GM & Associates threatened to garnish the consumer’s wages if the consumer did not pay on an alleged debt with Riverside Financial. The consumer requested proof of the debt but GM & Associates refused to provide any. The consumer reported never obtaining a loan with Riverside Financial.
Contact information obtained from the complaint received:
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 www.dfi.wa.gov. Consumers can also check license status with the Department of Licensing at www.dol.wa.gov.
GM & Associates is not licensed by DFI. They are also not licensed as collection agency by the Washington State Department of Licensing.
Important Information for Washington State Consumers
Washington State residents are informed that Washington State law provides in RCW 31.45.105(1)(d) and (3) that a “small loan” made by an unlicensed entity to a person physically located in Washington State is uncollectible and unenforceable in Washington State. A “small loan” is defined in RCW 31.45.073 and is a loan that does not exceed $700.
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.
Prevent and Report Identity Theft
Consumers should never make payments over the phone or via email to a third part debt collector that refuses to provide a written validation notice. Even if the party seems to have some of your personal or financial information, you should not make payments or provide bank account or credit card information without receiving a written validation notice. If the scammers already have your bank account information, social security number, or other nonpublic information, you may be a victim of identity theft and you should take appropriate precautions. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has information for victims of identity theft available online at www.ftc.gov.
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.
If you feel you have been the victim of a financial scam and are concerned about your personal financial information, contact your banking institution and the three major credit bureaus. Procedures for contacting the credit bureaus are available on the FTC’s website at www.ftc.gov.