RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A warning from the Better Business Bureau could help keep your money out of the hands of what the organization calls a deceptive company.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the government agency created to protect consumers from financial deceptions and other abusive practices. The Better Business Bureau says don't confuse the legitimate government agency with an imposter called the Consumer Protection Bureau. It makes some big claims about protecting consumers, but the BBB says don't trust it. The names are similar but the site is not a government agency.
In fact, the BBB calls it misleading and gives it an F rating. Consumers claim they've received calls from supposed agents following up on a sweepstakes prize, and wanting to make sure you get paid. Tom Gallagher of the Richmond BBB says eventually the group requests a fee. "Don't try to talk to them, don't engage in conversation. All that can happen is they can talk you into it. These people are very, very good, and depending on your need at that time and your vulnerability at that moment, you can fall for it," Gallagher said.
We called and emailed Consumer Protection Bureau several times to get a response to the BBB's report and never got a response. However, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- the site created by Congress -- did respond. It confirms that controversial site is in no way connected with the agency. A CFPB spokesperson sent this statement: "The CFPB is aware of this alleged company calling itself the "Consumer Protection Bureau. This entity and this website are not affiliated in any way with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal agency established by the Dodd-Frank Act. The CFPB will take appropriate steps to assure that its name and its logo, both of which are subject to registered federal trademark, are protected from misuse."
The BBB says everyone should be on alert. "They are targeting all of us. Anybody is vulnerable at this particular time of our lives. Nobody has enough money in the bank, and we always have more expenses than we have money it seems," Gallagher said. He says if you've already sent money, you will probably never see it again. When it comes to tracking down those responsible for the site, Gallagher says that's always a challenge because many times companies will use fake addresses. "If you get a call from an organization saying they are with the Consumer Protection Bureau and they want to make sure you don't get hurt, stay away from them, run in the other direction, it's not going to do you any good," he said.
No matter what name a caller is using, if you didn't solicit it, never give up your information and definitely not your money. If you have an issue with a financial product or service, you can file a complaint with CFPB.