Las Vegas, NV, Oct. 9, 2012 – Hundreds of consumers across the nation say they have been victimized by an online payday loan scheme involving at least seven questionable businesses, all claiming the same Las Vegas address, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.
In every case, the complainants told the BBB that the businesses used electronic checks to take $30 from their accounts. Some consumers said the companies told them the charges were payday loan application fees, even though the consumers maintain they never formally applied for loans. Other consumers said they have no idea where the businesses got their banking information or how they were able to access their accounts.
More than 300 people, including a few Las Vegas consumers, have filed complaints against the businesses, most of them in the past several months.
“These people need to be stopped,” said a Denver, CO. consumer. “How did they get my bank account and social security number?” asked a man from Las Vegas, NV. “Please help!!!” pleaded a woman from Milton, DE.
The businesses identified by the BBB are Capital Advance Capitol (also known as Loan Assistance), Ideal Advance, LoanTree Advances, Pacific Advances, Palm Loan Advances, Vantage Funding, and Your Loan Funding. All list addresses at 2780 S. Jones Blvd., Suite 3675, in Las Vegas, NV, and most have virtually identical websites. All have “F” ratings with the BBB for failing to respond to complaints.
George Cartwright, BBB President and CEO, said consumers should always be mindful of giving out their personal information. “The lure of quick cash causes people to drop their guard and become victims of these scam artists,” said Cartwright. “It is reprehensible for these types of companies to prey on people who are already experiencing financial difficulties.”
Several of the complainants said they have been promised refunds repeatedly, but never received them. Several also said they were promised $1,000 gasoline vouchers in lieu of a refund, but never received those either.
The BBB has found six nearly identical websites for the companies, with only the businesses’ names changed. “Get up to $1,000 in as fast as 1 hour!” claim the sites. “4 out of every five applicants is approved on the spot! Get approved for a loan regardless of your credit score or credit history!” All of the sites have identical testimonials, again with only the company’s names changed.
A consumer from Alton, IL, who receives medical disability benefits, said he had been researching a payday loan on the Internet and was asked to type in bank routing information in the event he applied for a loan. Immediately after entering the information, it appeared that his computer switched to a different website and a message on that site asked whether he wanted to join an online savings club. He said he clicked “no,” and ended his efforts at applying for a loan. He said it was soon after that his bank notified him of a withdrawal by Vantage Funding. “I have talked to them 10 times and I have talked to 10 different people,” he said. “I’ll never do anything like this on my computer again,” he said.
A Las Vegas consumer said he, too, had been considering an online payday loan, but decided not to go through with the application process. “Vantage Funding withdrew $30 from my account which resulted in overdraft penalties. Luckily my bank reversed the overdraft charges.” When he contacted the company requesting a refund, he was told the withdrawal was for an application fee for a loan and offered a gas voucher in lieu of a refund. “I don’t understand why they charge people when they already know we are experiencing financial difficulties.”
The BBB offers the following tips to avoid losing money in an online payday loan scheme:
● Be extremely cautious about providing banking or other personal information to strangers.
● Read and understand all “terms and conditions” printed on a website.
● Check for BBB Business Reviews by going to www.bbb.org or by calling 702-320-4500.
About the BBB
The BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews of more than 4 million companies, 11,000 Charity Reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust, for consumers and businesses alike. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.