Advance fee loan brokers are near the top of the Council of BBBs' list of most-asked-about businesses. Callers requesting information on these questionable promotions placed more than 80,000 calls to BBBs nationwide.
Despite BBBs' warnings, many consumers and small businesses continue to lose large sums of money to fraudulent loan brokers. These so-called loan brokers advertise in the newspaper classifieds hoping to attract financially vulnerable consumers or business owners with the promise of guaranteed, low-interest loans to consolidate or pay off debts and clean-up credit records.
According to BBB files, consumers who have answered such ads were told that their credit application could be taken over the phone and approved within a day. Not surprisingly, all applications were "approved" and consumers were asked to send upfront fees ranging from $25 to hundreds of dollars, supposedly to cover the first loan payment or for other expenses.
Consumers who have sent money to bogus loan brokers report that they never received the loan and never received a refund for the upfront fee. In the past several years, hundreds of fraudulent loan brokers have set up operations across the country, targeted out-of-state victims, collected their money and closed shop. Some have re-opened their doors under different names, hoping to bilk new borrowers while going after old victims for a second time.
BBBs have heard from thousands of victims who have lost money in advance fee loan scams to smooth-talking salespeople. The sales pitch may include pressure to make an immediate decision and a requirement to send money, or give out credit card or bank account numbers. Consumers should never give out any account numbers before checking out the reliability of the company with BBB. Also before signing for any loan, consumers should have a clear understanding of all the terms in the written agreement.
While the sales pitch may sound believable, consumers and business owners should ask themselves, why would an unknown lender, located in another state, be more likely to provide money than local financial institutions? Borrowers should be wary of any ads or brokers charging advance fees for the mere promise of a loan.
The BBB provides the following general information on advance-fee loan companies:
The company you are inquiring about is an advance-fee loan company. For an advanced fee of one hundred to several hundred dollars, these firms offer to obtain loans for consumers who may be unable to borrow from traditional sources. Consumers should be aware that it is illegal for loan brokers to collect a fee before the consumer has received the loan. It is the experience of BBB that few if any consumers ever receive the loan or a refund on the fee charged. If you are attempting to obtain a loan from an unknown company check the company's Reliability report by calling BBB in the company's service area and do the following:
a. Make sure you exhaust the options in your own community and find out the reasons for any turn down.
b. Get references from the company and investigate them. Ask which lenders the "loan broker" deals with and then check out those firms with BBB in the cities where they are located.
c. If you have been contacted by such a company, Canadians should contact Phone busters at 1-888-495-8501, if a US citizen contact the Federal Trade Commission HELP LINE 1-877-382-4357. Consumers who have already given considerable personal information in the US should call the FTC ID THEFT Line at 1-877-438-4338
General Note: Advance Fee Loan Brokers in the State of Arizona are required to be registered with the Arizona State Banking Institute. Please check with that agency to be sure the Arizona company is registered