Alert number: CA051017_12/09/2019 (12/20)
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (Department) has received a complaint from a Washington consumer against Comet Loans. The consumer reported they obtained a loan from Comet Loans over the internet. The consumer stated they did not receive a loan agreement at the time the loan was originated. The consumer stated that when Comet Loans provided them a copy of the loan agreement, the terms were different from what they had agreed to. The consumer stated Comet Loans charged excessive fees, excessive interest, and threatened to send a wage assignment form to their employer. These allegations have not been verified by the Department.
It appears that Comet Loans may be operating as an unlicensed tribal lender. Comet Loans claims to be owned and operated by the Tonto Apache Tribe, a federally-recognized Indian Tribe located in Arizona.
Tonto Apache Tribe d/b/a Comet Loans appears to be associated with the following contact information:
Tonto Apache Reservation # 30
Payson, AZ 85541
Tonto Apache Tribe d/b/a Comet Loans is not licensed by the Department and is not registered to conduct business in Washington State by the Department of Licensing, the Department of Revenue, or the Secretary of State.
The Department warns Washington consumers that before doing business with a financial services provider the consumer should:
- Make sure that the entity is lawfully entitled to conduct business in Washington. Consumers can use the “Verify a License” feature on the Department’s website at www.dfi.wa.gov/consumers/findcompany.htm to check whether a payday or consumer loan company is licensed to conduct business in the state of Washington.
- Not provide any personal information, such as social security number or bank account number or access if the company is not licensed or authorized to conduct business.
Important Information for Washington Consumers About Unlicensed Lenders
- 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.
- 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, check that the company is licensed by the state of Washington Department of Licensing.
- 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.
Important Information for All Consumers
- If you received a loan from a lender and someone else is now attempting to collect the loan, the 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.
- If you feel you have been the victim of a scam, you can contact the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or online at www.ftc.gov; or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at 1-855-411-CFPB (2372) or online at www.consumerfinance.gov.
- If the scammers already have your bank account information, social security number, or other personal information, you may be a victim of identity theft. You can contact your bank and the three major credit bureaus to take appropriate precautions. The FTC has information for victims of identity theft online at www.ftc.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.
- 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 live in another state, go to this webpage to find the regulator in your home state. http://mortgage.nationwidelicensingsystem.org/consumer/Pages/AgencyContacts.aspx.