Amid the current pandemic facing our country, consumers across the country are facing financial hardship and are exploring options for help. Unfortunately, it is during these vulnerable times that consumers often fall victim to scammers and illegitimate businesses.

A company, Loans for high-rise buildings, was recently investigated by the BBB after consumers across the country alleged fraudulent activity that resulted in the loss of thousands of dollars.

In the past two months, BBB has received 38 complaints, negative reviews and follow-up reports of consumer scams in 20 different states in the United States.

Consumers told BBB the company contacted them, saying their loan applications were approved. Highrise Loans would then send the consumer loan documentation requiring bank account information. Many consumers have said that everything initially seemed legitimate.

BBB obtained copies of these documents and discovered that the company was using the BBB Accredited Business seal and the US Department of the Treasury logo on loan documents without authorization.

After providing their banking information, Highrise Loans informed consumers that a partial amount of their approved loan had been deposited into their accounts. In order to receive the remaining balance, Highrise Loans asked consumers to purchase gift cards and provide the card numbers to the business.

Once the gift cards were provided to Highrise Loans, consumers discovered that the initial deposit was fraudulent. Victims then still had to pay the amount spent on gift cards, but some had limited or no access to their funds, due to an overdraft or fraudulent activity reported on their bank accounts.

A victim said Highrise Loans told her she was approved for a $ 10,000 loan and sent Target gift cards while the money was being deposited into her bank account . The victim has lost all funds in his account and is held liable for $ 1,200.

Another consumer said he was intimidated after finding out the company was fraudulent and decided not to continue doing business with them. The consumer told BBB that Highrise Loans was threatening to sell their personal information online.

According to the company’s website, www.highriseloans.co, the company has a business address in Austin, Texas. However, BBB letters mailed to the company were returned and a site visit revealed that the Highrise address and loans were non-existent.

Additionally, BBB’s investigation found a separate business name that appears to be the same operators as Highrise Loans. On August 4, 2020, BBB received a new report tracking scams against a company named Pacifica Finance. The scam report alleges the same activity with the company’s website, www.pacificafinance.co, identical to the site used by Highrise Loans. BBB has since received 4 other complaints against Pacifica Finance.

Highrise Loans has not responded to BBB’s attempts to address its concerns and currently maintains a dimension F.

To avoid falling victim to similar scams, use these tips from your BBB when applying for a loan:

  • Assess your needs. There are different types of loans for different situations. Loans for home purchase, debt consolidation, or personal loans are available. Find a loan that meets your needs and determine how much you need to borrow. Be careful with lenders who force you to take out a larger loan than you need to.
  • Determine your financial situation. Find out how much money you have for a down payment or other fees, and examine your credit history to understand what a lender will see. You can check your credit report and credit score with one of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion.
  • Find the loan. Do a lot of research and comparisons to find the best loan for your needs. Understand the payment plans and the interest rates offered with the loan.
  • Examine the documents. Read loan documents carefully before signing contracts, making sure to review details such as amount, number of monthly payments, and fees. Do not hesitate to ask all your questions to a lawyer or a trusted advisor.

Visit BBB.org for more loan advice and to search for business profiles.

If you’ve been scammed, on social media or otherwise, report your experience to BBB scam tracker. Your report can help others stay informed and protected!

Always look for the following companies BBB accreditation standards and BBB Standards for Confidence.

BBB Serving the Heart of Texas contributed to this article.

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