State warns about unlicensed lenders

Looking for a little loan? Look hard or suffer the consequences.

The state Department of Financial Institutions this week issued a warning urging consumers seeking loans from TV or online lenders to “read the small print and make sure any company they do business with is licensed to make loans in the state of Washington.”

Deborah Bortner, DFI director of consumer services, said that most Internet lenders are not licensed to do business in the state. Because of that, she said, when a consumer takes a loan from an unlicensed lender, “there is little we can do to protect them, and often little we can do to the company if they don’t adhere to our laws, especially if they are located outside of the United States.”

On Oct. 6, the agency issued a temporary cease-and-desist order against Cash Advance Now, a Costa Rican company unlicensed in Washington. DFI alleges that Cash Advance Now has violated state and federal laws and that borrowers have been left unprotected.

The agency said that so far this year it has received complaints against 47 online lenders.