Alert Number: CA048102_ 10/12/17(10/18)
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has received a complaint from a Washington consumer of what appears to be a loan collection scam. The consumer alleged being contacted by an entity using the following names:
- Advance Cash Incorporations
- Cash Advance Services
- Advance Cash Express
The collection attempt allegedly involved threats of lawsuits and arrest. The collection attempt also allegedly claimed that the consumer was being investigated by the Attorney General’s Legal Affairs Investigation Section and the Annually Investigation Practices of Federal System (AIPOFS).
The consumer reports being contacted through email and text messages and reports being asked to send money to repay the debt through Green Dot Prepaid Visa Cards or iTunes Gift Cards. The consumer reports being provided with an alleged account number, alleged payoff amount, alleged police case number, and alleged warrant number.
The following email address is reported to be associated with the apparent scam:
This email display names reported to be associated with this Gmail account are:
- “Department of Law & Enforcement”
- “CASH ADVANCE SERVICES”
The entities perpetrating the apparent scam are not licensed by the Department and are not registered to conduct business in Washington State by the Department of Licensing, the Department of Revenue, or the Secretary of State. The Department of Licensing licenses and regulates collection agencies under RCW 19.16.
Please note that Advance Cash Incorporations, Cash Advance Services, and Advance Cash Express, should not be confused with ACE Cash Express, Inc. (ACE), d/b/a ACE America’s Cash Express, 1231 Greenway Drive, Suite 600, Irving, Texas, 75038, which was previously licensed in Washington.
DFI warns Washington consumers:
- Generally, licensed collection agencies do not send emails from “gmail.com” accounts.
- Never send money or provide access to your bank or credit card in response to threatening telephone calls or emails you receive claiming that you owe a debt.
- Never give any personal 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.
- Check that 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.
- Check the license status of collection agencies with the State of Washington Department of Licensing at www.dol.wa.gov.
Important Information for Washington State Consumers
Residents of the State of Washington are informed that Washington State law provides in RCW 31.45.105(1)(d) and (3) that a “small loan” (sometimes referred to as a “payday 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. Collection activities involving loans of $700 or less are subject to RCW 31.45.082, which limits the time, place, and manner in which a payday loan may be collected. Payday lenders must also provide borrowers with an installment plan if the borrower is not able to pay the small loan back when it is due.
Information About Federal Debt Collection Law
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. If you receive a communication from a party claiming that a debt is owed, you can 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 federal debt collection laws, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP or online at www.ftc.gov.
Prevent and Report Identity Theft
Consumers should never make payments over the phone or via email to a third party 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. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has information for victims of identity theft available online at www.ftc.gov.
If you feel you have been the victim of a financial scam and are concerned about your personal financial information, contact your bank and the three major credit bureaus. Procedures for contacting the credit bureaus are available on the FTC’s website at www.ftc.gov.
Report Suspicious Activity, Scams or Fraud
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.
Washington State residents only: If you are a victim of a collection scam or if you suspect illegal or fraudulent activity involving a financial product or service, please contact the Department of Financial Institutions at 1-877-RING-DFI (746-4334), or online at www.dfi.wa.gov. You may also wish to contact the state of Washington Office of the Attorney General at www.atg.wa.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.
All consumers, if you feel you have been the victim of a scam you might also with to contact the FTC 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.
If you feel you have been the victim of a scam involving the internet you may also contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center online at www.ic3.gov.