8 warning signs of a personal loan scam | finder.com
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How to avoid a personal loan scam

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Not sure what’s a scam or not? Here’s how to protect yourself online.

You can get personal loans from a lot of places these days. If you don’t like your bank or credit union’s terms or have bad credit when applying, an online lender might cater to your specific needs.

But going online comes with a downside: It’s harder to tell a scam from a legit offer. To help you avoid getting ripped off, we cover the signs of a personal loan scam and what you can do to avoid them.

8 signs of a personal loan scam

  • No credit check required. Most legitimate lenders will check your credit to determine if you’re able to repay them: A high score means you repay your debts in full and on time. If a lender isn’t interested in seeing your credit score, be wary. A scammer typically doesn’t care about your creditworthiness because it’s after your personal information.
  • The lender isn’t registered in your state. States require lenders to register for a license. If you find a business isn’t licensed to operate in your state — even if it’s licensed in other states — don’t respond to its lending inquiries. You might have stumbled on a fraudulent website using a business’s name to make money.
  • Your loan offer is incomplete. The Truth in Lending Act requires all lenders to provide the complete terms of a loan, including the final cost of the principal plus interest, before you sign on the dotted line. If your offer lacks details, contains spelling or grammar errors or otherwise raises an eyebrow, it could be a scam.
  • You can’t find a physical address. If a lender doesn’t provide a physical address or contact information, put the brakes on your loan. Scammers make it difficult to get in touch later, thus avoiding any legal action you might want to pursue against them.
  • Your offer is expires soon — and you must act now. If you’re faced with an “urgent offer,” you’ve likely found a scam. Legitimate lenders offer steady rates that depend on your credit. Pressure tactics are designed to drive you to act quickly, before you’re able to spot a scam in progress.
  • The loan requires payment up front. Loans demanding “processing,” “insurance” or even “origination” fees before approval are a scam. A lender asking for payment before it’s processed your application is a scammer looking for a quick buck.
  • You’re guaranteed approval. There’s no such thing as a guaranteed loan. For approval, a lender will typically check your credit and verify your information. Scammers lure you in with guaranteed approval so they can collect fraudulent upfront fees.
  • Asks for payment in the form 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. No legitimate lender will ask you pay with a gift card, and if your lender is pressuring you to do so, you should find a new loan.

5 things to look for in a legit lender

Use these tips before signing a contract to be sure you’re dealing with an upstanding business.

  • It’s easy to contact. When you call or email a legit lender, you should be met with decent customer support that’s ready to answer your questions. The lender should also clearly display a physical location and its state licensing information online.
  • It’s website is secure. Look for a little padlock to the left your address bar to confirm the site is safe. Most lenders encrypt the information you send to it online with 128-bit or 256-bit SSL. If a lender doesn’t, move on. A great offer isn’t worth risking your personal info.
  • It runs a credit check. When you apply for a personal loan, you’ll typically get two credit checks: a soft pull to confirm you exist and a hard pull to see your history. If a lender doesn’t care about this important step in the process, it’s likely not legit.
  • Its loan terms are clear. A legit lender will provide a transparent contract outlining how much your loan is for, the fees you’ll pay, any potential penalty fees, your interest rate, the total interest you’ll pay and the final cost of your loan. It will also detail when you pay and your payment options. If your contract is incomplete, don’t sign it.
  • Reviews and ratings are available online. See what other people say online about this lender. With your research, ask: Are reviews positive or negative? What problems do customers report? Can you find information on the lender? If you can’t find anything positive — or anything at all — you could be looking at a scam business.

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Rates last updated November 14th, 2018

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Unfortunately, none of the personal loan providers offer loans for that credit score. If you are in urgent need of a small loan, you might want to consider a short term loan.
Name Product Product Description Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR
Monevo Personal Loans
Quickly compare multiple online lenders with competitive rates depending on your credit score.
550
$100,000
3.34% to 35.99%. (fixed)
Credible Personal Loans
Get personalized rates in minutes and then choose a loan offer from several top online lenders.
Good to excellent credit
$100,000
4.99%–36% (fixed)
SoFi Personal Loan Fixed Rate (with Autopay)
No fees. Multiple member perks such as community events and career coaching.
680
$100,000
6.99% to 14.87% (fixed)
Marcus by Goldman Sachs Personal Loans
Consolidate your debt or pay off large expenses with competitive rates and no fees.
Good to excellent credit
$40,000
6.99% to 24.99% (fixed)
Avant
Conveniently check your loan options without affecting your credit score.
580
$35,000
9.95%–35.99% (fixed)
Even Financial Personal Loans
Get connected to competitive loan offers instantly from top online consumer lenders.
580
$100,000
4.99%–35.99% (fixed)
NetCredit Personal Loan
Check eligibility in minutes and get a personalized quote without affecting your credit score.
550
$10,000
34%–155% (Varies by state) (fixed)
LendingClub Personal Loan
A peer-to-peer lender offering fair rates based on your credit score.
660
$40,000
6.95% to 35.89% (fixed)
OneMain Financial Personal and Auto Loans
An established online and in-store lender with quick turnaround times. Poor credit is OK.
Varies
$30,000
16.05%–35.99%* (fixed)

Compare up to 4 providers

How to avoid a personal loan scam

Here’s how to protect yourself from two common scams you might encounter when applying for a personal loan.

  • Phishing scams

Among the most common personal loan scams are those that involve fraudsters “phishing” for your personal or financial information.

In a typical phishing scam, you visit a site or open a form that appears to be from a legitimate lender. You might even speak by phone with a caller claiming the need to “confirm” your loan details. In either case, if the scam is successful, you’re tricked into providing your Social Security number, bank account numbers or passwords, which a scammer then uses to steal your money or identity.

How to avoid being “phished”
A key rule of thumb when applying for a loan online is to confirm that you’re on an encrypted page. Look for a padlock to the left of your page’s URL, which itself should start with “https,” indicating a secure site. If you don’t see either, the site you’re on may not be legit.

secure website https

In general, avoid clicking links in any unsolicited email or popup window. If you don’t trust the source of an email or phone call, get in touch with the lender’s customer support directly to ask about the contact.

And if you can’t confirm a lender, an offer or even loan details, walk away and look elsewhere. Better to not have a loan than risk the potential of having your identity stolen and your bank account drained.

  • Advance-fee scams

These simpler scams are sometimes combined with phishing scams. In this case, you apply for a personal loan with a fraudulent lender that asks for you to pay a fee to cover processing costs, insure your loan or even guarantee approval before they’ll process your application.

You’re often asked to pay with a wire transfer or prepaid debit card — payments that aren’t traceable, making for an easier getaway. By then, you’re out money and potentially your identifying personal or financial information.

How to avoid losing your money to a scam
If a lender asks you to provide an upfront fee for any reason, put the brakes on your application. No legitimate lender will ask you to provide money at any point before it processes your application.Some lenders charge an origination fee for their loans, but these fees are typically deducted from your total loan amount.

3 quick ways to see what others say about a 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 solid 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 make out a pretty good picture of how a lender runs its business and what you need to know before applying for a loan.
  • Online forums. Don’t stop with the big review sites. Plenty of online forums like Reddit and Quora allow you to browse customer opinions and crowdsourced answers about lenders and potential scams. Or post your own questions about a lender, and see what customers have to say. If you’re worried that a positive review elsewhere is from a shill, a forum could be a decent alternative for information from people who likely aren’t affiliated with the company.

Bottom line

Scammers put a lot of work into gaining your trust so that you click, share or open what they’re pedaling. Which means that real loans are increasingly hard to tell from the fakes. In the end, knowledge is the best defense against personal loan scams.

To find a personal loans from a trustworthy company, you can compare fees, rates and terms of legit lenders we’ve reviewed.

Frequently asked questions

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US Personal Loans Offers

Important Information*
Credible Personal Loans

Get personalized rates in minutes and then choose a loan offer from several top online lenders.

Monevo Personal Loans

Quickly compare multiple online lenders with competitive rates depending on your credit score.

LendingClub Personal Loan

A peer-to-peer lender offering fair rates based on your credit score.

SoFi Personal Loan Fixed Rate (with Autopay)

No fees. Multiple member perks such as community events and career coaching.

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6 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    LavonneOctober 26, 2018

    Payday loan company asking for debit card and login of bank information. Is this common?

    • finder Customer Care
      CharisseOctober 26, 2018Staff

      Hi Lavonne,

      Thanks for reaching out to finder.

      Yes, it is quite common for Payday lenders to request for your bank account and login details to verify that you’re eligible. It is safe to give your login information to lenders that are legitimate and reputable. These lenders will not store your login details and they should also have a secure, encrypted page for you to submit your bank account numbers along with your other personal information.

      You should still be careful though, as there are also scams out there. Before you submit your application, it’s always worth checking if the short-term loan you’re applying for is legit. You can refer to this page for some tips on how to spot a bad lender.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Charisse

  2. Default Gravatar
    SarahMay 19, 2018

    They are telling me to fill up my bank accounts and scan my nationality ID, but they dont want to give their contact informations only email. Is this legit or not?

    • finder Customer Care
      JeniMay 19, 2018Staff

      Hi Sarah,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      That situation where the lender refused to provide contact details really would make an applicant in doubt. Now to check if the lender or an institution is legit or not, you may check them through Better Business Bureau’s official page.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  3. Default Gravatar
    KellieMarch 28, 2018

    They are telling me I have to pay the first installment in advance. Is this common practice for a high risk client like me?

    • finder Customer Care
      JoshuaMarch 28, 2018Staff

      Hi Kellie,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder.

      If you’re worried if the lender you are dealing with is a scammer, please review the content of this page.

      One of the red flags you need to watch out for is when the loan requires payment up front. Loans demanding “processing,” “insurance” or even “origination” fees before approval are a scam. A lender asking for payment before it’s processed your application is a scammer looking for a quick buck.

      In most cases, the first installment payment is paid after you get your loan. Read your terms and conditions, make a background check, and see what other people are saying about your lender. By doing these steps, you should be able to determine whether a lender is a scammer or not.

      Finally, if you are really unsure, please seek professional and expert help.

      Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

US Personal Loans Offers

Important Information*
Credible Personal Loans

Get personalized rates in minutes and then choose a loan offer from several top online lenders.

Monevo Personal Loans

Quickly compare multiple online lenders with competitive rates depending on your credit score.

LendingClub Personal Loan

A peer-to-peer lender offering fair rates based on your credit score.

SoFi Personal Loan Fixed Rate (with Autopay)

No fees. Multiple member perks such as community events and career coaching.

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