Alert Number: CA049473_9/18/18(9/19)
Originally posted: 11/16/2017
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has received multiple complaints from Washington consumers of what appears to be debt a collection scam. Several consumers reported being contacted by entities alleging to be “Mediation Services” and “Mutual Mediations.” These entities claimed to be collecting debts owed for loans the consumers reported never occurred.
One consumer reported to receive threatening voicemails from Mediation Services. When the consumer called the number provided, the answering individual would not give the consumer any information about the source of the alleged debt. The consumer reported that several calls and voicemails were received.
Another consumer reported that someone claiming to represent Mediation Services had been leaving voicemails on the consumer’s personal phone. The caller identified himself as Kevin Reynold. The caller stated that he needed the consumer to contact him regarding a pending case against the consumer for an outstanding debt. The voicemail further stated that legal action would be taken if the debt was not paid immediately, and that the consumer would be waiving his rights if the consumer failed to respond.
One consumer reported being called by someone identifying himself as Brad Stevens from Mediation Services. The caller told the consumer he was collecting a debt owed for a payday loan, but refused to identify the name of the payday loan company. The caller claimed the consumer owed $700 for a payday loan taken out in 2010 that the consumer did not recognize. The consumer reported that the caller knew what bank the consumer used.
Another consumer reported being called multiple times by someone claiming to represent Mutual Mediations. The caller claimed the consumer owed $1,000 to National Group, LLC for a payday loan taken out in 2011 that the consumer did not recognize. The consumer reported the caller threatened that theft charges would be filed if the consumer did not enter into a payment plan.
These facts have been alleged by the consumers, and have not been verified by the Department.
The consumers reported the following contact information related to the calls:
The entities perpetrating the apparent scams 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 the callers reported by the consumer should not be confused with the following businesses that are registered with the state:
- Mediation Services, LLC – Bellingham, WA (Inactive)
- Mediation Services, Melinda Branscomb – Vashon, WA
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 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 (which is not otherwise exempt from licensure) 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 as a loan that does not exceed $700 and requires repayment between 7 and 45 days after the loan is made. You should consider obtaining legal advice to determine if your loan is collectable or enforceable in Washington before deciding not to pay.
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.