Pittsburgh, PA April 2, 2008 – The BBB is warning consumers about a company called Orchard Credit and Financial Solutions. The company advertises loans that are tailored to meet the customer’s financial needs, but it is actually an advance fee loan scam.
Before they can receive their loan funds, however, they must first pre-pay a fee. The loan applicant is told to wire the money or send a money order, usually to a location in Canada or overseas. The consumer never receives the loan and cannot recover their money. They also risk having their identity stolen if they provided their Social Security number or bank account number.
The BBB began getting calls on Orchard Credit and Financial Solutions March 27, 2008. Their website (www.OrchardCreditandFinancialSolution.net) was only created on March 11, 2008. Although the company lists a 787 Pine Valley Dr. address on its website, commitment letter and contract, it is not located there. A 916 fax number out of California is listed on documents received from consumers and according to the Pennsylvania Department of Banking, Orchard Credit and Financial Solutions is not licensed to provide loans. The toll free phone number the company uses is the same one listed by an advanced fee loan scam using an address out of New York City.
Consumers who have contacted the company are sent a commitment letter and loan agreement. The BBB received a copy of one of the agreements. It states for a $5,000 loan the borrower must pay $836.55 before receiving the loan. With advance fee loan scams consumers send in their collateral payments, but never receive a loan in return.
The BBB wants to warn consumers about Orchard Credit and Financial Solutions and other advance fee loan scams. Local consumers have been victimized by similar scams. The BBB also offers the following tips:
• If you are asked to pay money upfront, other than for certain mortgage loan fees, it’s a scam.
• Reputable lenders never guarantee or promise that you will receive a loan before you apply, or before they have checked your credit report.
• Don't give your credit card, bank account, or Social Security number on the telephone, by fax, or via the Internet unless you are familiar with the company and know why the information is necessary. Don't send money for a loan by wire. Reputable lenders don't pressure you to wire funds.
• Make sure the company's physical address is legitimate. Beware if the loan broker hesitates to tell you the physical location of the company. Refuse to do business until you have obtained and verified its physical address or location.
• Obtain the company's number in the phone book or from directory assistance, and call to make sure you're dealing with the company you think you are.
• If the broker claims to have connections to established financial institutions, ask which lender the company deals with, and ask for the physical address of the lender.
• Before choosing a loan program contact the BBB to get a report on the company and check to see if they are properly licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking.
Advance fee loan scams are illegal! To avoid law detection, fraudulent loan operators move quickly, frequently reopening under new names. If you are victimized by an advance fee scam, DO file a complaint with the BBB and the Pennsylvania Department of Banking. While the chance of recovering the payment fee is minimal, your experience will help BBBs warn other consumers and assist government investigations.
“If you have trouble qualifying for a loan, you do have options. There are nonprofit organizations in every state with trained credit counselors who can assist individuals with debt problems. Contact the BBB for tips on selecting a trustworthy credit counselor,” King suggested.
Consumers are able to determine the reliability of merchants by viewing reliability reports at www.bbb.org.