Alert Number: CA047070_9/8/17(9/18)
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has received complaints for what appears to be a possible debt collection scam. Consumers reported receiving harassing calls claiming that the consumer owed a debt on a loan; however, when requesting proof of the debt or the location of the company the caller would not provide the information. It was reported by a consumer that the caller recited her entire social security number. In another report, it is alleged that the caller threatened legal action if the debt was not paid immediately. In addition, it was reported by consumers that the caller alleged they were collecting a debt on behalf of following companies: Kenwood Services, LLC; EP Processing, LLC; and Twin Bluff Financial.
Variations of the name CFS have been provided by consumers who have reported receiving collection calls:
- CFS Services
- CFS Holding / CFS Holdings
- CFS Holding, LLC d/b/a Creative Financial Staff
Consumers have stated they were contacted by callers using the following telephone numbers: 888*818*8709 and 855*386*1187.
CFS is not licensed by the DFI nor registered to conduct business in Washington State by the Department of Licensing (DOL), the Department of Revenue, or the Secretary of State.
The DFI warns Washington consumers:
- 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
Washington State residents with loans of $700 or less 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.
Collection activities by payday lenders in the State of Washington are subject to RCW 31.45.082, which limits the time, place, and manner by which a payday lender may collect a debt. 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 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. 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, you can 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, you can 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 wish 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 can contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center online at www.ic3.gov.