BBB Investigation: Advanced fee loan company tricks consumers out of hundreds of dollars

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SAN ANTONIO—A company that is allegedly located in San Antonio may have left consumers looking to obtain a loan out to dry after charging hundreds of dollars as an advanced fee, only to never deliver on the loan.

Dollars On Call has racked up six complaints in four different states with BBB this year, and those who filed complaints all allege a similar story. Complainants claim they were contacted by the business through email after looking online to obtain a loan. The email said they had qualified for a loan. However, after calling the business, consumers were told they needed to pay a fee in order to continue the process.

It was at this point that Rene Brown of Massachusetts and other complainants were asked to do something unusual.

“They told me to get a PayPal card and put $100 on it,” Brown said.

Although skeptical, Brown went ahead and put $100 on the card. Prior to their request, she was looking online to get a payday loan.  So when she got an email from Dollars On Call about being eligible for a $3,000 loan, it didn’t seem out of the ordinary.

“I certainly didn’t find them, they found me,” Brown said.

Brown then loaded $100 onto the PayPal gift card she bought and was told it would be refunded. All she had to do was give them the code on the card. Next, she sent another $180 as well through a PayPal gift card. The company allegedly told Brown that a finance officer would get in touch with her and that they work with Bank of America. However, Brown said she couldn’t get ahold of anyone she spoke to.

“Everything just stopped. I tried calling them and it went straight to voicemail,” Brown said.

Similar complaints filed with BBB support Brown’s story. Consumers allege they were asked for an advanced fee ranging from $100 to $350 dollars to be paid through a gift card. Once the business gets its money, consumers are unable to get ahold of any representative.

Some complaints on file also allege being transferred or connected to what they believed to be a well-known bank in order to complete the loan process.

BBB looked into the physical address listed on the company’s website dollarsoncall.com. After reviewing it, BBB confirmed 6300 Lake Superior St. was not a working address in San Antonio. Additionally, BBB found the website was registered to different people on different domain searches. The first is someone called Madhan B who could possibly live in India and work for an organization called “It Dreamz.” The second is someone called Jackson Moore who listed the company’s contact address as his own.

The company is also not a registered broker with the Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner, which is required by the state of Texas.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, it is illegal for companies doing business over the phone to promise a loan or credit card and request payment before those services are delivered.

BBB reached out to the business through email and phone in order to address our concerns, but the business never contacted us back.

While it may be tempting to answer solicitations that say you qualify for a loan, remember the process is never that easy.

BBB offers these tips when dealing with companies who request an advanced fee:

  • Don’t wire money or use a third-party debit card. It’s an immediate red flag if a company asks you to wire money or use a third-party debit card to obtain loans. Once you hand over the payment, you’ll more than likely not get it back.
  • Check to see if the company is licensed. A loan broker working in Texas must be registered with the Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner. Consumers can call the agency or check online to see if the company they are dealing with has a license. Remember, all loan brokers are required to register in the state where they do business.
  • Don’t pay a fee for a loan before it’s delivered. According to the FTC, it is illegal for companies doing business over the phone in the U.S. to promise a loan and ask for payment before it is delivered.
  • Ask what the fees are for. If you’re being asked to provide some upfront money before being issued a loan, ask what the money is needed for. If the company says it for processing or paperwork, or refuses to be specific, you may want to walk away. Also, be careful about giving out your Social Security number or bank information to a company that states they won’t need to check your credit history. The company could use the information you provide to debit your bank account.
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