How to Avoid Loan Fee Scams
Everyday thousands of people research and apply for loans. You may be looking to buy a new car or house, get student loans to pay for college or refinance your home to consolidate debt. Whatever the reason for the loan, you need to borrow money and want the best interest rate and terms you can find. That’s just good financial sense. Unfortunately, fraudsters and scammers know it too!
How Loan Fee Scams Work
If you’re looking for a loan, scammers know how to reel you in. They use emails, phone calls, online ads and even flyers posted in public spaces. They promise “guaranteed” low-interest rates, great repayment terms or that you qualify for a special program. They target new mortgages and home refinancing loans, student loan consolidation, debt consolidation loans, car loans, and government loans and grants. There are as many versions of this scam as there are loan types, which make them very effective. Once they have your attention with their too-good-to-be-true loan, they tell you that you need to pay a “processing fee” to secure your loan or a “one-time payment” to lock in your rate. You make your payment thinking you have the loan, only to discover that the vendor has vanished along with your money.
Tips on Spotting and Avoiding Loan Fee Scams
- Real lenders post loan fees! If you’re applying for a loan be prepared to pay fees: application fees, credit report fees, appraisals, closing costs, etc. If there are fees that need to be paid they are only charged after you have secured the loan. Scam lenders try to get you to pay fees before you secure the loan. Any up-front fees are a cue to walk away and find a new lender.
- Real lenders don’t offer guarantees! Real banks and lenders never guarantee a loan in advance of an application or credit analysis. Lenders will ask for financial records, job and salary info and pull credit reports before providing an interest rate and loan amount.
- Real lenders don’t accept unusual payments! Real lenders never ask you to pay loan fees with Green Dot MoneyPaks, iTunes cards, or by wiring money. This is a big red flag that the “lender” you’re talking to is a fraudster!
- Research the lender! Scammers will pretend to be from an official organization or a known and trustworthy lending institution. They may even know enough about you and try and convince you that they are your current lender! Research the lending agency and check if the loan program that is being offered is real and legitimate. In the United State and Canada, all lenders and loan brokers must register where they do business. In the U.S. call your Attorney General’s Office or your state’s Department of Banking or Financial Regulation. Report scams to the BBB. In Canada, visit the Canadian Securities Administrators website and perform a National Registration Search. Report scams directly to the Canadian Securities Administration.