Alert number: CA050788_11/27/19 (11/20)
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (Department) has received a complaint from a Washington consumer against Apex Lending Services. The consumer reported that Apex Lending Services offered her a $5,000 loan in exchange for an upfront “collateral payment” of $450. The consumer reported she paid the $450 but never received the loan promised. The consumer provided a document signed by an individual named “Olivia Chase,” who claimed to be a Senior Loan Officer for Apex Lending Services. The allegations reported by the consumer have not been verified by the Department.
It appears that Apex Lending Services may be engaged in an “Advance Fee Loan Scam” and is requiring payment of an upfront or advance fee in order for the consumer to be able to obtain a loan. It appears Apex Lending Services did not provide the consumer with a loan after the consumer paid the advance fee. Apex Lending Services may also be doing business as Marathon Financial Services.
Apex Lending Services and Marathon Financial Services are not licensed by the Department nor registered to conduct business in Washington State by the Department of Licensing, the Department of Revenue, or the Secretary of State.
The Department warns consumers to never give any nonpublic 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. 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.
PLEASE NOTE THAT “APEX LENDING SERVICES” SHOULD NOT BE CONFUSED WITH APEX LENDING, INC., WHICH IS A LICENSED CONSUMER LOAN LENDER IN WASHINGTON STATE.
“MARATHON FINANCIAL SERVICES” SHOULD NOT BE CONFUSED WITH THE FOLLOWING SIMILARLY NAMED BUISINESSES:
- Marathon Financial Services, Inc. (Watkinsville, GA)
- Marathon Financial Services, Inc. (Kent, OH)
This apparent scam is associated with the following contact information:
Addresses (USPS has not verified that mail for Apex Lending Services is currently delivered to these addresses):
400 N 34th Street
Seattle, WA 98103
800 5th Avenue, Ste 938
Seattle, WA 98104-3176
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.
Important Information for All Consumers
Unlicensed Lenders and Debt Collection Laws
State residents are informed that Washington State law provides in RCW 31.04.035 that fees or interest charged in the making of a nonresidential loan by an unlicensed lender must be refunded to the borrower. For a residential mortgage loan, an unlicensed lender must refund any non-third-party fees charged in connection with the origination (excluding interest charges).
Washington residents only: If you suspect unlicensed activity by a payday lender or consumer loan company, please contact the Department at 1-877-RING-DFI (746-4334), or online at www.dfi.wa.gov. Even if the activity involves a loan you obtained over the internet, a license is generally still required. If a collection agency is attempting to collect a debt from you, you can check whether the company is licensed by the State of Washington Department of Licensing.
If you received a loan from a lender and someone else is now attempting to collect the loan, collection activity may be subject to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If you are contacted by a third party claiming you owe a debt, you can request a “written validation notice,” which must provide 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 (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP or 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 financial scam, and are concerned about your personal financial information, you can 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.
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/contact/Pages/StateAgencyContacts.aspx.
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 and you should take appropriate precautions. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has information for victims of identity theft available online at www.ftc.gov.