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How to Avoid Loan Fee Scams

By | Email, Scams, Social Media | No Comments

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!

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How to Avoid Loan Fee Scams

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 MoneyPaksiTunes 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.

Four Ways to Secure Your LinkedIn Profile

By | Cyber Security, Email, Social Media | No Comments

Network Safely Online – Secure Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is the top name in professional networking and deservedly so.  Users have found jobs by posting their resume, expanding contacts and reaching out to obtain that dream job.  It’s Facebook for business professionals.

Many people forget, however, that it’s still an online network that requires personal identification information (PII) to form a profile.  LinkedIn is just as susceptible to security breaches and identity theft as any other social media platform. As recently as 2016 the site was hacked, affecting users with weak profiles and inadequate privacy settings.

The job search is stressful enough.  Using job search tools shouldn’t be. Four key actions can be taken to help secure your LinkedIn profile.

Secure your LinkedIn profile to network more safely online

Secure your LinkedIn profile and be wary of unusual connection requests and emails.

 1. Beware of Fake LinkedIn Connection Invitations

It’s flattering when a CEO wants to connect with you.  But if you don’t know the person, don’t connect.  Hackers create fake profiles to impress and connect with you so they can steal your PII. These things should make you suspicious of a connection invitation from someone you don’t know:

  • Spelling and/or grammatical errors
  • A name or photo of someone you don’t recognize
  • Job profile that doesn’t fit with the timelines on their job history

Bottom line, read their profile carefully and consider searching for the company’s website before accepting their invitation.

2. Be Wary of Phishing Emails

Those emails LinkedIn sends you notifying of job changes, job recommendations and connection invites? Most are real.  But hackers can fake those too. Never click an email link before verifying the sender. Also, take note of the following red flags:

  • Spelling and/or grammar issues
  • Your familiarity with the sender – is their identity questionable?
  • Links – Hover your cursor without clicking over links in the email. This shows you where the link actually goes. If it’s not what they say it is, its a scam. Don’t click!

3. Create Strong Passwords for Your Social Media Accounts

Creating and regularly updating strong passwords is essential for ALL of your online profiles.  LastPass is a password manager app that automatically generates strong passwords, and only requires you to login once. It fills in the specific, unique password for each of your online network profiles so you don’t need to remember them.  Repeatedly using a single password for all networks is a common security mistake that opens you up to hacking across all your online profiles.

4. Use Two-Factor Authentication

LinkedIn offers two-factor authentication for all users – you simply need to set it up. This is the single most important step in securing your account. Use the following steps to add this security feature to your profile:

  • Access your profile and scroll to the bottom.  Click the link that says ‘Manage your account and privacy.’
  • Under the ‘Login and security’ section, click ‘Two-step verification’ and enter a mobile phone number where LinkedIn can send you a security code by text message.  Enter this in at the prompts to turn the Two-step verification on.

These few extra steps can dramatically improve your profile security. You can make professional networking and the job search less stressful knowing that your identity is more secure in your online profiles.