Two online businesses claiming false Austin, Texas addresses are\nusing bogus loan offers to extract upfront payments from consumers.Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the\nPermian Basin (BBB) warns consumers to beware of loan offers from Cash Advance\nUSA and Fast Cash Loan USA.Consumer complaints about both businesses allege that they were contacted after\nfilling out online loan applications. Some consumers stated they filled out\nforms on websites for Fast Cash Loan USA and Cash Advance USA. Others stated\nthey filled out forms on other websites that appeared to be unrelated.\nConsumers say they were told to make upfront payments using pre-paid cards, but\nnever received the loans.Cash Advance USA, www.cashadvanceusa.net claims in the “about us” section of\nits website to be located at 401 Congress Avenue, Suite 1545—a non-existent\nsuite number in the Frost Bank Building. A BBB investigator contacted the\ncompany responsible for leasing office space in the building and was told the\nbuilding has no such suite number.Fast Cash Advance USA, www.fastcashloanusa.com, claims in its loan confirmation\nform to be located at 402 Congress Avenue, Suite 9600—402 Congress Avenue is a\npaved commercial lot across the street from the Frost Bank Building.These fake addresses in the vicinity of a banking institution may lead some\nconsumers to believe they are communicating with a bank. In addition, because\nmany payday loan companies have names including the word “cash,” consumers may\nconfuse Cash Advance USA and Fast Cash Loan USA with other companies they are\nmore familiar with.BBB left a phone message with Cash Advance USA, which was not returned. A\nmessage to an email address provided by a consumer returned undeliverable. Fast\nCash Loan USA, has no address, email or phone number on its website. However,\nBBB sent an investigation letter through the form on its website and has not\nreceived a response.Cash Advance USA has a scam alert on the “contact us” page of its website\nstating that it does not loan money directly and that callers seeking advance\npayment for loans on their behalf do not represent them. However, consumers who\ncomplained to BBB have stated they called the contact number listed on the\nwebsite to discuss their loan.Edward Bray of Oklahoma says she lost over $1,400 in advance fees while seeking\na loan from Cash Advance USA. After filling out an online application, he says\nhe received a contract by email and a call from people claiming to be offering\nan $8,000 loan on behalf of Cash Advance USA. Bray claimed the caller demanded\nseveral upfront payments via pre-paid cards until he eventually refused. He was\nhoping to obtain a loan to help buy a house.“They called and I sent them what they wanted,” Bray said. “They said they\ncouldn’t take the fee out of my bank account and asked me to put it on a card.\nThree payments later I told them I couldn’t pay any more — $1,400 is a big\nchunk of cash for me.”The money he lost had a devastating effect. “I almost lost my family,” Bray\nsaid. “I lost the home I was in. I lost a vehicle. It was very stressful and\nvery hard. It was a big burden on me, my wife and my kids.”Therese Lugar of West Mifflin, Pennsylvania says she lost close to $500 after\nseeking a loan from Fast Cash Loan USA. After filling out an online loan\napplication, Lugar says she got a call from people claiming to be loan officers\nwho convinced her to make several payments using pre-paid MoneyPak cards in\norder to obtain a $4,000 loan.“I needed a loan to finish Christmas shopping for my kids and I was kind of\ndesperate,” Lugar said. “They called me and said they were sending my\napplication out to a couple of different lenders. They wanted me to buy a Green\nDot card. I borrowed $90 from my mother and put it on the card. They stayed on\nthe phone with me. They said they needed another $100.”Lugar said the business continued to get additional payments until she had paid\nout over $400, until she finally refused to pay any more. “They are very\ngood at making you believe them and feel like you’re getting the loan, plus\nmore money in addition,” she said. “I got two people who claimed to be\nsupervisors, who said to write out a police report and said the check was in\nthe mail. At first they would ask for my account number, but I wouldn’t give it\nto them so they said they were sending a check. They said it would be here in\nseven to 10 days.”BBB offers the following advice when\nlooking for a personal loan:Be careful where you put your information. Beware of applying for online loans\nthrough unfamiliar businesses or websites. Many of these online application\nsites are run by scammers or by people who sell your information to scammers.Don’t pay advance fees. Understand that any business operating by phone and\ncharging insurance or other fees in advance of making a loan is operating\nillegally.Verify the address. Do not do business with anyone who cannot give you an\naddress that you can confirm as legitimate.Read the contract. Read any contract carefully and make sure you understand all\nrequirements before entering into any agreement.Don’t get tricked by “official-looking.” Official-looking loan documents and\nsophisticated looking websites are easy to copy or fake. Just because a\nbusiness appears legitimate, doesn’t mean it is.Do your research. Find an Accredited Business using BBB’s Member Pages, and\ncheck out the company’s BBB Business Review before purchasing anything from a\nwebsite.To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit\nbbb.org.