Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

Consumer Alert:
Lead Generators

Consumers should be wary of sharing sensitive personal information

August 31, 2012

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) is urging Washington consumers to be cautious when providing sensitive personal information, such as date of birth, bank account numbers, and social security numbers, on websites that purport to offer payday loans. Many of these websites are so-called “lead-generator” websites, which then sell consumers’ personal data to companies which may, or may not, be licensed to offer payday loans in Washington State.

DFI's primary concern is that consumers have no control over who receives their personal information once provided to these websites. Specifically, consumers’ information may be sold or transferred to an entity which then conducts an advance fee loan scam.

DFI has recently received complaints that consumers who have provided their information to one or more lead-generator sites have subsequently been contacted by a purported payday lender. These consumers report that this purported lender used the name “Advance America” (a company currently licensed with DFI) and the address and telephone number of Check Masters (a company formerly licensed with DFI).

Consumers reported that the calls came from 206-462-5125, and that they had been given an e-mail address of wilsonhenry026@gmail.com.

The purported lender stated that the prospective borrower must load money on a prepaid access card before the loan could be disbursed. This money was then taken from the consumer’s card, and no payday loan was ever provided.

Lead generator websites often appear to be payday lenders

Hundreds or even thousands of these websites are present on the Internet. Many of these websites make statements such as “What we do: payday loans” or “We provide a fast and secure way to get you a payday loan online.” However, in the small print, these websites may indicate that they are not lenders, but merely a “matching service.” Additionally, these companies may sell consumer information to third parties for telemarketing, e-mail marketing, and text message marketing. Below is a very small list of websites identified by DFI as “lead-generator” websites:

Protect yourself

DFI urges consumers to:

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