This trade organization represents the growing industry of companies offering loans online.
Under the controversy that surrounds short-term loans these days, it can be hard to know if the terms you’re getting are fair. As you consider online lenders, you might want to see if they belong to the Online Lenders Alliance (OLA).
OLA works to proactively strengthen the reputation of the online lending industry by monitoring misleading claims and setting best practices for its members.
What does the Online Lenders Alliance do?
OLA is a trade organization that lobbies on behalf of the online trading industry and its member lenders.
To become a member with OLA, a lender agrees to adhere to a code of conduct that meets industry standards and safeguards customer data.
Aside from holding its lenders accountable, OLA also provides information to consumers that include a hotline for help navigating online lending, a platform to report fraudulent claims and transactions and consumer tips to stay safe.
OLA put its best practices in place to ensure that its online lenders meet such industry standards and regulations as:
Clearly explaining loan terms to customers in a way that’s easy to understand to help them make educated financial choices.
Providing a reasonable cancellation policy in case consumers change their mind about the loan.
Avoiding any misleading advertising, unfair or deceptive activities.
Providing referrals, credit counseling, education and assistance to consumers.
Protecting all customers’ personal and financial information — and making sure that members do too.
Read OLA’s complete list of best practices on its site.
The Online Lenders Alliance has a presence in the United States, the United Kingdom and China.
In the UK, OLA partners with the Consumer Finance Association to protect online lenders and, as a result, consumers. Many of the CFA’s companies are longtime members of OLA as well.
In China, OLA works with Rong360 to protect customers and set new standards for online lending.
Consumer tips from OLA
The Online Lenders Alliance takes pride in educating consumers about short-term and small-dollar loans. To help you make well-informed financial decisions when applying for a short-term loan, OLA provides helpful tips.
Don’t borrow more than you can afford. The more you borrow, the higher the interest and fees you could potentially owe by the end of your term. Avoid the risk of defaulting on the loan in the face of an unexpected financial burden by signing on for only the amount you need.
File away documents related to your loan. Paperwork, receipts, email and contact information can help you get in contact with the right people and provide payment amounts and due dates, loan terms and loan amounts when needed.
Carefully read the terms and conditions before signing paperwork. Lenders are required to tell you exactly how much you’ll be paying. If you don’t like the terms, you’re under no obligation to sign a contract.
Watch out for any “trigger terms” or misleading advertisements. If a campaign states something like “Borrow money now with low interest rates,” look around for any accompanying disclosures or fine print. If a loan advertises instant funding, it’s likely too good to be true.
Jennifer Gimbel has over five years of experience informing editorial strategy at one of Disney’s digital media brands. Now as loans editor at Finder, she strives to create engaging, transparent content to help readers find products to meet their financial goals. On the weekends, you can catch Jenn at the dog park with her pup Olive or exploring the streets of Brooklyn — iced coffee in hand.
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