It can sometimes be difficult to keep up with expenses and, at times, we may need additional assistance. Thanks to the Internet, finding a loan has never been easier. In recent years, new and old loan companies have set their business online, allowing customers to request and receive necessary funds on a quicker and more efficient basis. However, numerous scam websites and fraudulent collectors have emerged in light of this online boom, each hoping to swindle money from honest people. It is important to detect when a loan website looks illegitimate and to pay attention to signs that you are being deceived.
Determine the Legitimacy of a Website
If considering an online loan company to help with financial issues, it is important to explore every available option. “Scammers” have grown smarter in the digital age, creating technical mirages and dummy websites designed to trick customers into providing personal information. Be cautious of websites that feature a bare layout, with little to no content aside from queries requesting personal information such as your name, bank account information, and driver’s license number.
When browsing through online loan companies, the best piece of advice would be to contact the companies directly. A proper business should have its phone number and email address listed somewhere on the webpage. It is in your best interest to get in touch to establish legitimacy. Make sure you ask about business practices and procedures. Do some online research too. A simple Google search could reveal customer complaints, reports to the Better Business Bureau or some other red flags that will let you know a business is one of the “Scammers”.
Beware of Upfront Fees
Loan companies often offer a variety of benefits and services in exchange for your business, but some claim that they require a fee before setting up transactions. Often a variety of arbitrary reasons are presented for such a payment, such as processing costs or credit check fees . If the loan company does not present this charge to you in writing, then these fees should serve as the first red flag in spotting a scam. BackgroundCheck.com notes that in the previous year alone, over 2,500 Americans have experienced such a situation, claiming they were forced to pay advance fees for loans and services they never received.
It may be wise to not pay any cash up front, unless a company provides a written statement explaining the fee and what it is for. Federal laws such as the Truth in Lending Act require loan businesses to present the fees and costs of loans in writing, so you should always ask for this before any money is exchanged.
In some cases, “Scammers” may pocket the amount from the upfront fee, and it can be difficult to prove that you actually paid or prove what the payment was for. Most legitimate loan businesses do not require the payment of advanced fees for the funding of a loan, so be wary if you’re asked for money up front.
Pay Close Attention to the Information that You Provide
When contacting loan companies, whether by phone or email, representatives occasionally request personal information such as Social Security numbers or credit card statements. The questions may range in the degree of sensitive and confidential information sought. Sometimes they require you to provide this information up front, while other times they subtly ask while consulting with you. You should never feel obligated to comply with this request as it raises further potential for identity theft. Some online applications do require personal information like your Social Security Number or bank account number to set up a direct deposit. Check around on the website for what measures the company takes to secure your information and always call them if you need more information.
At least 7% of American households have reported identity theft . Providing your Social Security number, bank account, or even your home address may be all that “Scammers” need to access your important information. In some cases, they may be able to access your credit history. You should be extra careful when asked for any personal information and should ask to speak or meet with the business representatives personally in order to provide any confidential information.
Do Not Feel Any Immediate Pressure From these Scammers
“Scammers” have developed new strategies in deception, using fear to swindle money from more people. Posing as attorneys or seemingly respectable business representatives, some “Scammers” have utilized scare tactics in their craft, accusing their clients of false debts that must be paid immediately. Other swindling strategies include using bogus claims of faulty credit history or even threats of arrest to frighten customers into providing personal information .
You should never give in to threats and scare tactics. Instead, request that businesses send their accusations and issues via mail. Remain steadfast in refusing to give your personal information, and if a threatening letter does arrive in the mail, you should send it to your attorney, your state’s Attorney General’s office, or the Better Business Bureau (BBB) immediately.
So Overall, How Can I Trust My Loan Company?
With so many loan companies available, it can be difficult to determine which businesses are legitimate as opposed to the ones that are not. Use your judgment and common sense, as well as the aforementioned Attorney General’s office and Better Business Bureau, to determine the validity of a company’s business. It is important to set aside time for research. You’re ultimately entrusting a company with your most personal and sensitive information, so make sure you find a lender with whom you feel comfortable.