Beware of this advance fee loan scam, says BBB of Greater Cleveland

Beware of this advance fee loan scam, says BBB of Greater Cleveland

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Better Business Bureau serving Greater Cleveland is warning people about an advance fee loan scam.

A Seven Hills man recently lost $500 to a scammer when he applied online for a $10,000 loan with Within an hour after filing his application, he received a call telling him the loan could not be finalized until he paid $500 to boost his credit score. He was instructed to purchase Amazon gift cards in $50 increments and give the security code on the back of each card. After he complied, they asked for an additional $150 in gift cards to cover the cost of wire-transferring the loan monies to him. At that point he decided against proceeding with the loan and asked for a refund of the initial $500. They refused to issue a refund but did offer to add the $500 to his original loan request if he would only provide the additional $150 for the wire-transfer. He did not provide the $150 and has ceased all contact with the business.

BBB found the website lists a non-existent address in New York.

The website registration for lists Dollars on Call as the registrant with a San Antonio address.

Dollars on Call has an "F" rating with BBB due to unanswered complaints from consumers who paid advance fees for loans that never materialized. is also "F" rated by BBB.

The online application requests a great deal of personal information -- employer info, social security number, bank account number, driver's license, mother's maiden name, etc. -- all of which could expose an applicant to identity theft.

Loan scams are not only waiting to be found online, some reach out to you via text messages.

A Cleveland woman recently received a text message loan offer from someone claiming to be with CashNet USA. She provided her online banking user ID and password in order to receive a $1000 loan. She was told the monies would be deposited into her bank account.  When the money did not arrive,  the company claimed her loan was rejected due to poor credit history and a $50 fee -- payable with an iTunes card -- was now required to finalize the loan. The $50 fee would be returned to her when she received the loan. Because she fell victim to a loan scam in the past, she did not send the fee and told the scammer she was reporting them to BBB.

Some warning signs of advance fee loan scams include:

  • Bad Credit? No Problem! -  Lenders who promise easy terms, fast cash, guaranteed loans, and don't care if you are creditworthy are often scammers.
  • Surprise! - The lender wants advanced fees or tacks on extra fees before providing the loan.
  • Don't call us - We'll call you  - It is illegal for companies doing business by phone in the U.S. to promise a loan and ask you to pay for it before they deliver.
  • Sounds like… - Scammers often use company names that sound like well-known businesses and create websites that "borrow" content from legitimate lenders.
  • Hide and Seek - Refuses to provide the business street address or you can't verify that the business exists at the address the company provides.
  • Fees please - Lender will require the use of gift cards, prepaid debit cards, or wire transfers to pay fees.
  • License and registration, Ma'am - Lenders must be licensed by the Ohio Department of Commerce.  To check, go to, or call 614-728-8400.

Check with BBB before completing any online applications or signing any loan documents.  You can get our grade ratings on businesses, read customer complaints, and read or submit customer reviews at

If you discover a scam or are victimized by one, please report it to

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