CREATED Jun. 27, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- It's easier than you might think for someone to get cash using your identity. It's a scam that will leave you holding the bill. Tonight in a Contact 13 consumer alert, a warning from one Henderson woman, who says it happened to her.
"I couldn't believe it. I was in shock," says Christine Cummins.
Anyone would be, if they opened a bill like this.
"Holy cow. Someone had taken out a $500 loan under my name. And Rapid Cash wanted $625 dollars back," says Christine.
She says she never applied for this online payday loan. But back in April, someone using her social security number did. So she went to a Rapid Cash location to find out what was going on.
But she was in for an even bigger surprise when they printed up this contract. It turns out, this loan came with an annual percentage rate of more than 536%.
"So of course I was extremely upset," says Christine.
She says customer service also told her, the money had been deposited into an account in New York.
"I said you guys gave money to someone that's not me, and put it in a bank account that's not even in Nevada," says Christine.
So she reached out to Contact 13 for answers. We learned the Rapid Cash website lists the requirements for getting a loan, which includes proof of income. Christine showed Contact 13 a copy of the pay stub she says was used to apply for the loan. It says she works at Fine Steaks and Salads on Anthem Village Drive, near Eastern.
But there's two problems with that: first as you can see, that restaurant doesn't exist any more. According to the city of Henderson, the business license expired back in 2008. Second, Christine actually works for the Clark County School District.
"I have never worked there. I have never eaten there," says Christine.
So we wondered, did Rapid Cash verify Christine's place of employment? Rapid Cash says it does, but privacy laws prevented them from talking to Contact 13 specifically about what happened in Christine's case.
Here's the other problem, we learned customers are only required to show ID when they apply for a loan at a store. Online applicants don't have to provide ID. Instead, Rapid Cash says it identifies customers by verifying your name, social security number, birthday and other personal information.
"All they needed was, some how they got my social security number, but all they provided was a fake pay stub and that's all they needed," says Christine.
The worst part is, it can happen so quickly, it's hard to stop. Rapid Cash says when a loan is approved online, the customer can have that money in their account the very next business day.
The company says it takes a number of steps to help prevent identity fraud. But they admit it happens, and they work closely with law enforcement to stop it. So Christine filed this police report, hoping an investigation might clear her name. But that's not all.
"My main concern is that interest rate," says Christine.
Remember that 536% number?
"I don't think anyone should be a victim of that high of an interest rate," says Christine.
Rapid Cash says even though it's labeled as an annual percentage rate, these are meant to be short-term loans. So as long as a customer pays it off within 14 days, the company argues their rates are actually reasonable. Christine doesn't see it that way.
"I think it's highway robbery," says Christine.
While the rate does seem high, Dan Wulz with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada says it's legal.
"The interest rate is unregulated. They can charge whatever interest rate they can get a customer to agree to in the loan contract," says Dan.
As for Christine, things are just getting worse. After our interview, she got another bill, this time for more than $500, for a loan with a different company, that she never applied for. The good news is, Christine is done dealing with Rapid Cash. After Contact 13 reached out to the company, she got this letter, letting her know her loan was found to be fraudulent and she doesn't have to pay it back.
"In my opinion they're out $500, and they really made me angry," says Christine.
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line. If you're the victim of fraud, make sure you file a police report. We spoke with Henderson Police who are investigating this case. They stress it's extremely important to report this sort of crime, otherwise identity thieves continue to get away with it.
Also be sure to protect yourself just like Christine did, by putting an alert on your credit report. And if you're the victim of ID theft, remember we've got your back Las Vegas. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll see what we can do to help.