Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is receiving reports from around the country about unsolicited faxes business owners are receiving. The faxes, sent by Key Funding – which purports to operate out of Bloomington, Minnesota – claim that business owners have been “pre-approved for a capital infusion of $48,862.04 with underwriting authorization of up to $250,000.” BBB advises business owners to discard such faxes, as nothing about the company – or this offer – adds up. Instead, it has all the hallmarks of an advance fee loan scheme.
“Though this offer might seem like a life preserver to a struggling business, we believe it’s an anchor,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “BBB’s experience with these types of offers is that after business owners – and consumers, whom schemes like this also target – wire advance fees to lenders, the lenders either request more money or cease contact, leaving victims without a loan and only more debt.”
Key Funding was brought to the attention of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota by BBB of Akron (OH), after a business owner in that region had received the fax from Key Funding. BBB of Western Michigan was also alerted to this fax and performed some research which revealed that Key Funding is not located at the address they are claiming in Bloomington. Building management confirmed there is no business with that name operating at that address.
“This is not how ethical companies operate,” added Badgerow. “Legitimate lenders will never guarantee a loan before you apply or before they’ve checked your credit status as well as your references.”
To avoid advance fee loan schemes, businesses should:
· Never pay for the promise of a loan. It’s illegal for companies doing business by phone in the U.S. to promise you a loan and ask you to pay for it before they deliver.
· Contact BBB (bbb.org) before following up on a suspect offer or solicitation.
· Ignore any ads, faxes or phone calls which guarantee a loan in exchange for a fee in advance. Remember that legitimate lenders never guarantee or say that you will receive a loan before you apply or before they have checked out your credit status or contacted your references, especially if you have bad credit or no credit record.
· Always play it safe. Don’t give your credit card, bank account, or Social Security numbers to unknown parties over the phone, by fax, or via the Internet.
· Stay away from requests to make payments to an individual for a loan; no legitimate lending organization would make such a request. Also, watch out for requests to wire money or transfer funds through prepaid credit cards or via Green Dot MoneyPak. These are all signs the loan you’ve been offered is not legitimate.
· Look for low-cost assistance. It’s a good idea to try to solve your debt problems with your creditors as soon as you realize you won’t be able to make your payments. It’s often in everyone’s best interest to try to reach an acceptable arrangement. If you can’t resolve your credit problems yourself or need additional help, you may want to contact a credit counseling service. There are nonprofit organizations in every state that counsel and educate individuals and families on debt problems, budgeting and using credit wisely. There is little or no cost for these services. Universities, military bases, credit unions, and housing authorities may also offer low or no-cost credit counseling programs. Check the white pages of your telephone directory for a service near you.
If you live in the U.S. and think you’ve been a victim of an advance fee loan scam, report it to the FTC online at ftc.gov or by phone, toll-free, at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
For the latest consumer news and free BBB Business Reviews, visit bbb.org.
The mission of the Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact the BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.
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