One-third of American adults have been faced an attempted fraud in recent years
Any business that involves considerable amounts of money quickly exchanging hands is a fertile ground for scams and frauds and the same comes to online lenders frauds. Scammers always look for a chance to quickly make a buck with the least possible effort. And the lending industry is rife with scammers who fraudulently take out the loans. But such does not present an overt danger for people looking for loans. Big banks and financial institutions employ artificial intelligence and machine learning to fight against these types of frauds. But, a common consumer of the lending industry’s products has to be aware of a potential scam coming from the other side, fraudulent lenders.
How widespread are scams?
Seemingly with every day, a new type of financial product comes to market. And each of them presents a scammer with an opportunity for at least a couple of different scams. And you can be certain that there are some very creative fraudsters out there. In the lending industry, just due to the wealth of different products there is a wealth of different scams.
Many studies and reports indicate that about one-third of American adults have faced an attempted fraud in recent years. While scammers do not practice ageism, millennials do seem to be the hardest hit of all age groups. The FTC’s study conducted in 2017 based on the filed consumer complaints show that almost 40% of millennials have suffered financial losses due to fraud. While these findings are based only on people who filed a fraud complaint, it is quite higher than 18% among people of 70 or more years of age. While this study doesn’t give any definitive conclusions, it does paint a picture of people in their 20’s not being fully cognizant of the potential dangers on the financial markets.
How to avoid online lenders frauds
Fraudsters always prey on vulnerable people, and in the loans industry, it is people who desperately need money. The best way to protect yourself from a scam is to arm yourself with knowledge. Especially on how scammers will try to defraud you. While searching for an online lender that offers a product that suits your needs, you have rather slim chances to stumble upon a scammer. But, as in any other area of life knowledge is power and there is no safety in ignorance. Scammers will come hunting actively for their victims. And the only sure way to protect yourself is by knowing how to recognize a scam.
How to recognize an online lenders scam
In the majority of scams involving loans consumers are not targets for direct financial gains, but online lenders and similar financial institutions. Consumers are more often just a tool in the scammers’ arsenal. First and foremost as a source of a legitimate identity for fraudulently obtaining a loan. And that is the first precaution a person must have on their mind, how to protect their own personal information from identity theft. Scammers often try to obtain genuine personal information, personal documents, addresses, and social security numbers; and then use them for applying for personal loans from online lenders.
By stealing the identity of a person they can fraudulently obtain a loan, which then often a victim of the identity theft will have to repay. Such identity thefts are often done by simple phishing methods. Usually by sending forged emails with requests to resubmit your documents to your bank or such.
Who has the right to ask you?
While banks and many other institutions have a legitimate right to ask you to provide such information, they will not ask you by email to resubmit them. Most certainly not because “the fire in the office building in Delaware has destroyed your personal file” as claimed by an email in my Spam folder I got from [email protected]. And that’s another way how they mislead victims into giving them sensitive personal information. They send mass emails from slightly misspelled domains. And they don’t know whether you have an account at some bank or not. They will just send you the email because they have found your address among many they have purchased someplace. And you need to be very careful when reading these kinds of emails.
When I got the said email, I spent hours wondering why I got it when I’m not a Bank of America customer, before I’ve noticed that I’ve got an email from the Bank af Omerica. A friend of mine got an email from the Bank of Ameirca around the same time.
This is how scammers will try to dupe an Average Joe to provide them the ability to scam online lenders. And they do have tools in their arsenal they will use to try to defraud you personally by offering you fake loans. And here is a list of common red flags that some loan offers might be a scam.
Unsolicited loan offer
Whether by phone, email, or social networks a potential scammer might try to contact you and present you with a loan offer. This could be a legitimate offer. But, the legitimate offer will contain a way to contact back the company which is making the offer, a phone number, or website address. A scammer will continue to communicate with you in the same manner. Legitimate offers are always automated and replying to them will have no results. While scammers will be actively waiting for your reply. Just ask yourself, have you ever met a person who called some customer service and got a living person in less than 15-20 minutes? Scammers reply after 15-20 seconds. With such quick and polite responsiveness they aim to build up your confidence in them and provide them with personal information or money.
No interest in your payments history/credit score
While many legitimate online lenders offer bad credit loans, no reputable lender will neglect to do a proper check of your ability to pay back the loan. The payment history or credit score is just two of the factors they might take into account. The difference is that they will not take into account just them. Legitimate online lenders might ask you to provide the employment/income information, education, and such which they use to calculate the risk of offering you a loan. Scammers will never, as they don’t need it.
Online lenders are not registered in your state
Per the Federal Trade Commission’s regulations loan brokers and lenders must be registered in states in which they offer services to residents. And you must check the lender’s website for the list of the eligible states. You can also find the lists of registered lenders on the web pages of your state’s Department of Financial Regulations or Banking. And this is the easiest way to recognize fraud. Scammers cannot be found in the official registration databases.
Their website is not secure
Online lenders do care about the potential frauds and scammers who impersonate them. The simplest way they protect their own cyberspace identity is by employing SSL certificates for their domains. While these are first and foremost used for securing safe communication with their websites, they incidentally provide proof of authenticity of their websites. Such SSL certificate protected internet domains are easy to recognize, they start with https:// and on many internet browsers there will be a padlock before the address. When you see both of these two you can be certain that it is a web page of a legitimate company. The absence is not proof that it is a scammer, but the presence is proof it is not a scammer.
No physical address
Even purely online lenders do have physical addresses. They might conduct their operations only in cyberspace, but their employees still need to sit in some offices. Scammers don’t need them. Sometimes they do provide them, but a quick search of such will lead you to some empty land or a shabby looking shed in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes they will advertise with a P.O. box, which shouldn’t fill you with confidence about their legitimacy.
The pressure to act quickly
Scammers will always push you to accept their offer today, this very moment. They are in the hurry to close the deal before you realize what is going on. Legitimate online lenders have time to wait. Even if they impose some time limit for accepting their offer it could be a few weeks, not days or hours. Only scammers will try to push you into quickly accepting their offer.
Payments before approval
This is one of the tricks a scammer might try to employ which is similar to the Nigerian Prince fraud. Scammers, in this situation, are only interested in collecting such “fees”. While it might be some small amounts of $15-20, no legitimate lender will ask you for something like this. Online lenders or brick and mortar banks, it doesn’t matter, all of them, if they are legitimate companies, will deduct the fees from your loaned amount or include them in monthly payments.
How to protect yourself from online lenders scam
Getting a loan from an online lender is like crossing a street at a crossing. It is generally safe but has certain dangers if you are not looking both ways. There are just three things you should do to fully protect yourself from fraud. And two of them are things you should be doing already anyway, as a way to safeguard yourself from any type of fraud or dishonest business.
Never resubmit sensitive personal information, unless you can independently establish that it is a legitimate request for confirming your identity.
You should never pay fees in advance.
Finally, never accept loan offers for which you have less than a week to decide.