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Personal loan scams: Who is legit?

Here's a breakdown of legit loan companies in Canada, plus 10 warning signs of personal loan scams.

Personal loan scams are more common than you might think. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reports that Canadians lost $104.4 million to fraud in 2020 and nearly $66.7 million to date in the first quarter of 2021. That’s why it’s important to shop around for legitimate loan companies in Canada and know how to spot personal loan scams before they happen to you.

Which personal loan providers are legit?

Peruse the table below to find samples of legitimate loan companies in Canada.

Loan providerIs it legit?Key featuresHow are they legitLink to site

Mogo

Check markHigher interest rates than many loans, borrow between $200 and $35,000, same-day approval and funding in many casesOffers a range of financial products with many positive reviews, though it has some negative reviews for its personal loans.

The company has been featured in The Globe and Mail, BNN and CBC.

Go to siteRead review

LoanConnect

Check markSearch multiple loans at one time, interest rates as low as 9%, amounts up to $50,000.LoanConnect vets all of the loan providers it works with to make sure your money is safe. It also has a dedicated customer support and large customer base.Go to site
Loans Canada

Loans Canada

Check markSearch multiple loans at one time, amounts from $300 to $50,000, interest rates starting at 8% for unsecured loansLoans Canada only works with financial service providers that adhere to Canadian laws and regulations.Go to siteRead review

Fairstone

Check markHigher interest rates than many loans, reserved for people with decent credit, borrow up to $25,000 in as little as 24 hours.Dedicated in-person branches with over 240 locations across Canada, very well-established (in operation since 1923)Go to siteRead review

You can find other legitimate loan companies in Canada by searching for companies on Google or by using a personal loan broker to connect to legitimate lenders near you.

10 signs of personal loan scam

Make sure you work with legitimate loan companies in Canada by learning how to spot personal loan scams. Avoid the following when deciding on a lender:

1.The lender requires you to pay for fees upfront.

Lenders that ask you to pay processing, insurance or origination fees as a condition of loan approval are operating a scam. Legitimate loan companies in Canada won’t ask you to pay any additional fees until your application is processed and you have received your loan.

2. The lender isn’t registered in your province or territory.

Provinces and territories require legitimate loan companies in Canada to register their financial businesses. If the lender you want to use isn’t licensed to operate in your province or territory — even if it’s licensed in other provinces or territories — then you should choose another lender to avoid potential personal loan scams.

3. Your loan offer is incomplete.

Loan companies in Canada are required to provide a loan contract that outlines the terms of your loan and the total cost you’ll pay with interest. If your offer is missing important information, contains spelling or grammatical errors or otherwise raises red flags, it could be a scam.

4. You can’t find a physical address.

If you can’t find a physical address or contact information on the lender’s website, put the brakes on your personal loan. If there is contact information on the website, you may want to search for the address or call customer service to ensure that the info provided actually belongs to a legitimate lender.

5. Your offer expires soon — and you must act now.

Most offers that are categorized as “urgent” can be written off as personal loan scams. Legitimate loan companies in Canada offer steady rates that depend on your credit score and finances. High-pressure sales tactics are designed to drive you to act quickly, often before you’re able to spot other red flags.

6. No credit check required.

Most legitimate loan companies in Canada will perform a credit check to make sure that you can reliably handle your loan repayments. Be wary of lenders that offer no credit check loans unless they have other means of verifying your ability to repay. For example, some lenders will require you to provide proof of income instead of a credit report.

7. You’re offered guaranteed approval.

Many personal loan scams involve the offer of a “guaranteed” loan with no background check. Legitimate loan companies in Canada won’t offer you a loan without first verifying your identity and assessing your creditworthiness. This helps them follow up with you if you default on your loan payments.

8. Unsolicited contact.

Loan scams can come in many forms – including social media requests, emails and even flyers to your mailbox. If you’re interested in a loan offer, make sure to do your own digging online to double-check that the company offering the deal is legitimate. If you can’t find the lender’s website, social media profiles or online reviews, it’s likely a scam.

9. No examples of fees, interest or costs

If a lender doesn’t list its interest rates or fees online – or provide them over the phone when you call — you could be dealing with a scam. Most legitimate loan companies in Canada will provide you with a quote for prices at the very least. Avoid working with lenders that aren’t transparent about how much your loan will cost.

10. Asks for payment in the form of a gift card.

Paying a lender with a gift card is the same as paying with cash — once the money has been used, it’s nearly impossible to trace or get back. Legitimate loan companies in Canada won’t ask you to pay with a gift card. If your lender is pressuring you to do so, you should find a new lender.

What to do if you're the victim of a scam

Personal loan scams are often very sophisticated and can happen to anyone. If you suspect that you’re the victim of a loan scam:

  • Call your local police. File a police report for the amount you’ve been defrauded.
  • File a complaint with the CAFC. Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) to lodge a complaint about a specific provider. Call toll-free at 1-888-495-8501 or file a complaint online at the Fraud Reporting System (FRS).
  • Call Crime Stoppers. Contact Canadian Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. You can also submit a tip about personal loan scams online using the Webtip service.

How to find legitimate loan companies in Canada

Before signing a loan contract, consider these tips to be sure you’re dealing with a legitimate lender.

  • Easy to contact. You should be able to easily access the lender’s phone numbers, email addresses, in-person building locations and business licensing information online.
  • Secure website. Most lenders encrypt the information you send online with 128-bit or 256-bit SSL. Look for a little padlock to the left of your address bar to confirm the site is safe.
  • Lender asks for a credit check. You should expect legitimate loan companies in Canada to check your credit. This can be through a soft pull on your credit to verify your ID or a hard pull that verifies your credit score.
  • Solid customer reviews. Double-check customer reviews online to see if the lender you want to work with is trustworthy. Just be mindful of reviews that are all positive or all negative. You should also be wary if a lender has very few reviews as it may be difficult to assess its legitimacy.
  • No upfront fees. Legitimate loan companies in Canada won’t charge you any fees until you receive your loan — though some might deduct an origination fee from the funds before it shows up in your bank account. This should be clearly outlined in your loan agreement if it does occur.
  • Clear loan terms. The terms of your loan should be clearly outlined in your loan contract. Double-check that all of the information provided to you verbally is included in writing as well. If anything is missing from your loan contract, avoid signing it until it reflects all of your loan information.

What information should be included in my loan contract?

Legitimate loan companies in Canada should include the following information on your loan contract:

  • Loan amount
  • Interest rates
  • Monthly repayment amount
  • Repayment method
  • Applicable fees
  • Legal obligations
  • Consequences of defaulting
  • Date and signatures

Common types of loan scams to avoid

Here’s how to protect yourself from two common scams you might encounter when applying for a personal loan: phishing scams and advance-fee scams.

Phishing scams

Phishing scams are used to collect your personal information to access your bank account or steal your identity.

Phishing scams usually:
  • Collect information through unsolicited phone contact
  • Install malware using unsolicited emails with embedded links
  • Request information via text messages
  • Promote their websites through sponsored ads on Google
How to avoid this type of scam
  • Avoid giving out your personal information over the phone
  • Never give out your banking information or passwords
  • Don’t click on unsolicited email links (even from companies you know)
  • Confirm that you’re on an encrypted page by looking for a padlock to the left of the page URL (on a site that starts with https://)
  • Protect your accounts by using multi-factor authentication

Advance-fee scams

Advance-fee scams demand that you pay an upfront fee before your application is assessed or before you can access the funds you’ve been approved for.

Advance-fee scams often:
  • Contact borrowers through unsolicited calls or online advertisements
  • Target bad credit borrowers who can’t qualify for traditional loans
  • Request advance fees such as processing, insurance or guaranteed approval fees
  • Request payment in the form of wire transfers, prepaid debit cards or gift cards (these methods are untraceable)
How to avoid this type of scam
  • Understand that it’s illegal for legitimate loan companies in Canada to ask for advance fees
  • Never hand money over to a loan company before your loan is in your bank account
  • Look at customer reviews and third-party ratings to make sure that a company is legitimate before you apply
  • Check to see that the lender is registered in your province

Four quick ways to verify an online lender

Visit these sites to help you verify an online loan lender:

  • Better Business Bureau (BBB).
    The BBB is an independent nonprofit dedicated to strengthening relationships between businesses and customers. It rates how a business works by analyzing customer reviews and complaints, allowing businesses to respond with a resolution. A leader in consumer ratings, the BBB is a reliable resource.
  • Trustpilot.
    A Danish company, Trustpilot is another consumer-run review site with some 500,000 new customer reviews published monthly. Combined with the BBB, you can create a pretty good picture of how a lender runs its business and what you need to know before applying for a loan.
  • FCAC or CCFA complaint database.
    The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) and the Canadian Consumer Finance Association (CCFA) are government-run agencies that help you search for complaints from current and former customers. You can also look into whether these agencies have taken legal action against the lender that you’re interested in.
  • Online forums.
    Don’t stop with the big review sites. Plenty of online forums like Reddit and Quora allow you to browse real customer opinions and crowdsourced answers about lenders and potential scams. Or, post your own questions about a lender and see what other customers have to say.

Compare legitimate personal loans companies in Canada

There are a number of legitimate personal loan companies operating in Canada. These include the following loan providers:

Name Product Interest Rate Loan Amount Loan Term Requirements Credit Score Link
LoanConnect Personal Loan
Secured from 1.90%, Unsecured from 5.75%-46.96%
$500 - $50,000
3 - 120 months
Currents debts must total less than 60% of income
Min. credit score: 300
Go to site
More Info
An online broker who helps inform clients towards better finances. Get pre-approved by different lenders for unsecured or secured loans in 5 minutes with any credit score.
Spring Financial Personal Loan
17.99% - 46.96%
$500 - $15,000
9 - 48 months
Min. income of $1,800 /month, 3+ months employed
Min. credit score: 400
Go to site
More Info
An online lender offering unsecured personal loans and credit builder loans. Those filing for bankruptcy or a consumer proposal can also apply. If you're not eligible for an unsecured loan, you may be offered a loan to help rebuild your credit.
ConsumerCapital Personal Loan
19.99% - 34.99%
$1,500 - $12,500
24 - 60 months
Min. income of $1,900 /month, 6+ months employed
Min. credit score: 600
Go to site
More Info
An online lender that provides fast unsecured personal loans. Complete an application in less than 10 minutes and get a decision within 24 hours. For faster loan approval, complete the Flinks bank integration in the app.
SkyCap Financial Personal Loan
12.99% - 39.99%
$500 - $10,000
9 - 36 months
Min. income of $1,200 /month, stable employment
Min. credit score: 550
Go to site
More Info
An online lender offering unsecured personal loans to borrowers with a wide range of credit scores. Apply in less than 5 minutes and if approved, receive financing in as little as 24 hours.
FlexMoney Personal Loan
18.90% - 46.93%
$500 - $15,000
6 - 60 months
Min. income of $2,000 /month, 3+ months employed
Min. credit score: 500
Go to site
More Info
An online lender offering flexible unsecured loans. Apply in less than 10 minutes and if approved, receive financing in as little as 24 hours. Pay off your loan at any time.
Loans Canada Personal Loan
Secured from 2.00%, Unsecured from 8.00% to 46.96%
$300 - $50,000
3 - 60 months
No min. income or employment requirements
Min. credit score: 300
Go to site
More Info
An online broker with the largest lender network in Canada. Get matched for free with lenders offering both unsecured and secured loans through one quick application regardless of your financial situation.
OFFER
Mogo Personal Loan
9.90% - 46.96%
$200 - $35,000
6 - 60 months
Min. income of $13,000 /year
Min. credit score: 500


Mogo offers a 100-day money-back guarantee. If you're not happy with your loan, pay back the principal and get your 100 days of paid interest and fees back.
Go to site
More Info
An online lender who aims for a hassle-free process through same-day unsecured loan approval and funding. Get a loan fast and track your credit score for free.
Fairstone Personal Loan (Unsecured)
26.99% - 39.99%
$500 - $25,000
6 - 60 months
Able to make monthly repayments on your loan
Min. credit score: 560
Go to site
More Info
An online lender with a team dedicated to professional service. Get a quote for an unsecured loan without impacting your credit score. Receive funds within as little as 24 hours. No prepayment fees.
Fairstone Personal Loan (Secured)
19.99% - 23.99%
$5,000 - $50,000
60 - 120 months
Must be a homeowner
Min. credit score: 560
Go to site
More Info
Use your home equity to get a secured loan up to $50,000 with flexible repayment options and a long loan term. Get a quote without impacting your credit score.
Loan Away Personal Loan
19.90% - 45.90%
$1,000 - $5,000
6 - 36 months
No min. income or employment requirements
Min. credit score: 300
Go to site
More Info
A lender that approves unsecured loans in as little as 20 minutes. Get affordable monthly repayments with any credit score.
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Bottom line

Personal loan scams are becoming more common and more sophisticated, which means it’s important to know how to protect yourself. Learn more about how you can recognize personal loan scams as well as who you can report them to. You can also use this post to compare legitimate loan companies in Canada.

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