With so many options out there aiming to cater to borrowers looking for easier access to funding, especially through internet portals, it can be hard to distinguish the legitimate offerings from those designed to take advantage of vulnerable consumers. Some online loan providers are simply rebadging the predatory models used by payday loan companies, while others may practice unscrupulous data collection policies or otherwise expose their customers to the risk of fraud. If you’re searching for a personal loan option online, here are some key considerations to keep in mind in order to protect your assets and identity.
- Be cautious of too-good-to-be-true offers that do not back up their claimed rates and terms with detailed information. Some E-commerce websites are set up solely to capture your personal information. They will operate for a few weeks and then disappear. Do your research! Look into the history of the company, its employees, and the clients it purports to have worked with. Can you find real evidence that they are legitimate? Look for accreditations like those from the Better Business Bureau as well as digital security services such as McAfee Secure, Verisign and Digicert.
- Never pay upfront! Scams often happen when a victim is asked to pay an upfront fee for a personal loan. A person will typically reply to an advert for a fast loan and will have their application approved regardless of their credit history. Before they receive the loan, they are told them must pay an upfront fee to cover insurance for the loan. Once this fee is paid, the victim does not hear from the company again and the loan is never received.
- If you suspect that you have been a victim of identity theft or another scam, the first step is to put a fraud alert on your credit file with all three credit-reporting agencies Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Placing a fraud alert is free. The initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for 90 days. Record the dates you communicate with the credit reporting agencies and keep copies of your correspondence on file. If needed, you can renew the alert after 90 days. You may also want to double-check your credit report to ensure that all the personal data is still up-to-date and correct.
- Almost any bank or legitimate personal loan provider, including Progressa, will never send you an email asking for your account password for a “security update,” or requesting confirmation of personal information via digital channels. The “required update” is a classic form of “phishing” or illegitimate theft of personal information. Don’t fall for it!