National Bureau of Merchant Services, Inc. (internalresourcenetwork.com, internalprocessingcenter.com & merchantservicebureau.org), also known as the Merchant Services Bureau, is an Arizona-based company that is commonly linked to another entity named Internal Resource Network in merchant complaints. In fact, it seems as though the website for National Bureau of Merchant Services (merchantservicebureau.org) is designed to resemble a consumer protection or watchdog site, but according to complainants, it is actually a site for a merchant account provider that also operates under the name of Internal Resource Network. Merchants are advised to keep in mind that there is no privately owned or government-run watchdog group known as the Merchant Services Bureau.
National Bureau of Merchant Services was founded in 2004 and is headquartered at 3003 W Northern Avenue #1, Phoenix, Arizona 85051. The company’s website does not list an Acquiring Bank. NBMS is owned by Michael and Suzanne Salman.
On April 9, 2014, we were contacted by Jennifer Portillo, a representative of Internal Resource Network. She stated that Internal Resource Network and the National Bureau of Merchant Services are two separate companies, that Internal Resource Network is not owned by Michael or Suzanne Salman, and that Internal Resource Network is based in New York. However, numerous online complaints and other consumer protection websites posit some kind of link between NBMS and Internal Resource Network, so the exact relationship between the two companies remains unclear at this time. It is also unclear whether “Internal Resource Network” and “IRN Payment Systems” are the same company.
In February 2013, Michael Salman pleaded guilty to felony theft and felony forgery and was convicted of defrauding the state of Arizona’s Medicaid program of more than $118,000. The following is taken from an announcement by the Arizona Attorney General’s office:
Michael and Suzanne Salman lied about their household income to the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) and received health insurance benefits through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) for themselves and their children.
Between 2008 and 2012 the Salmans submitted false information regarding their household income on applications for AHCCCS benefits and also submitted false statements about their employment with Bureau of Merchant Services – an entity whose initial board of directors consisted only of Michael and Suzanne Salman.
Between May 2007 and March 2012, Frank Salman misrepresented his income to DES in order receive AHCCCS health insurance benefits for himself, his spouse and his children. He also reported to AHCCCS that he was employed by NBMS.
According to this bulletin from the Arizona Department of Real Estate, Michael Salman also has a previous felony conviction for aggravated assault in 1992 and a 2002 misdemeanor conviction for impersonating a police officer.
NBMS Products and Services:
- Debit and credit card processing
- EBT acceptance
- Check processing
- Credit card terminals
- Gift and loyalty programs
- Merchant cash advance
|Key Points – Sales & Marketing|
|Uses independent resellers?||No|
|Promotes deceptive rate quotes?||No|
|Discloses all important terms?||No|
National Bureau of Merchant Services appears to utilize telemarketing to market its services, and it is unclear as of this writing whether the company hires independent sales agents. One complaint in the comment section of this review mentions receiving a call from National Bureau of Merchant Services in which the caller posed as the merchant’s current provider and tried to sign the merchant up for services, a tactic known as “slamming.”
In general, locating information about National Bureau of Merchant Services is especially difficult because the company’s website explicitly states that it is not a merchant services provider, even though the Better Business Bureau lists it as such. After taking a closer look, it seems that the website for National Bureau of Merchant Services is constructed to look like some kind of consumer assistance or watchdog group, when in fact we were only able to locate one company that has received any rating from the “Merchant Service Bureau”: the aforementioned Internal Resource Network.
At the time of previous updates to this review, Internal Resource Network (internalresourcenetwork.com) boasted an “A+” rating from the Merchant Services Bureau; this was unsurprising, as they seem to be related enterprises. The rating has since been removed from the NBMS website. To be clear, our research indicates that this company formerly posed as a consumer protection entity in order to give its affiliated business an “A+” rating. In our opinion, this is extremely deceptive. Merchants should be advised that contacting National Bureau of Merchant Services for any kind of financial guidance or to obtain agent recommendations would likely result in referrals to Internal Resource Network, and we would similarly suggest that merchants disregard the “A+” rating listed on the Internal Resource Network website. We give the company’s sales and marketing tactics a rating of “F.”
|Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms|
|PCI compliance fee:||Unknown|
According to complaints listed on this site and elsewhere, the standard National Bureau of Merchant Services contract is a 48-month agreement with an early termination fee of $300, although multiple merchants report having $1000 debited from their accounts after cancellation. It is unclear how National Bureau of Merchant Services explained the $1000 debit in these instances, but it appears to be a Liquidated Damages cancellation fee. Merchants also report a monthly minimum fee of $15 and a statement fee of $9.95. NBMS appears to resell long-term, non-cancellable lease agreements provided by Northern Leasing Systems.
These contract terms are far less competitive than industry averages, and the habit of debiting $1000 from a merchant’s bank account without authorization or explanation is especially troubling. We therefore award the company a “D” in this section.
|Key Points – Complaints & Service|
|Live customer support?||Yes|
|Most common complaint:||Sales tactics|
We were able to locate approximately 15 complaints about National Bureau of Merchant Services on this and other non-BBB consumer protection websites. Most complaints report unauthorized debits, nondisclosure of contract terms, and an inability to reach National Bureau of Merchant Services representatives. The company’s website provides a 24/7 service number and live chat, although both appear to be outsourced to other, unknown companies. Despite the fact that there are direct customer service numbers provided by the company, multiple complainants cite difficulty reaching company representatives or reaching resolutions in a timely fashion.
|Key Points – BBB Report|
National Bureau of Merchant Services is not an accredited business of the Better Business Bureau and currently maintains a “B” rating. The company has received 20 complaints in the last 36 months, with 13 of these complaints related to the product or service, six having to do with billing and collection, and one due to advertising or sales issues. Eighteen of these complaints were resolved with the assistance of the BBB and two were not resolved despite a good-faith effort by the company. In light of these figures, we have adjusted the BBB‘s rating to a “D.” For more on why we adjust BBB ratings, please see our Rating Criteria.
National Bureau of Merchant Services rates as a very substandard merchant account provider by our standards. The company appears to use a highly deceptive sales strategy of posing as a consumer protection group in order to give its affiliated provider a positive rating. In addition, the company’s contract terms don’t appear to be especially desirable, and its complaint rate is average for a company of its size. It is also worth mentioning that merchants looking for the company’s affiliated site (irnsystem.com or internalresourcenetwork.com) may confuse the company with IRN Payment Systems (irnpayment.com), but it is unclear at this time whether these two companies are related to each other. Merchants are advised to read the terms of any contract they are given very carefully.
This review was originally published on 4/2/2012 and was last updated on 1/12/15.
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