National Consumers League

Personal Finance

NCL Personal Finance Issues

Fake payday loans plaguing consumers

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Payday loan applicationPayday loans are short-term loans marketed to consumers in need of cash – a growing population in this economy. The loans – plus often high interest rates – are to be repaid on the next pay day, and consumer advocates warn consumers against using payday loans because they are a short-term solution that come at a very high cost. To make things worse, NCL’s Fraud Center is hearing about a new twist on payday loan scams from consumers.

Scam artists have latched onto a new hook for their cons – payday loans.  NCL has received numerous complaints from consumers reporting that they’ve been approached by scammers claiming to represent payday loan companies, collection agencies and law enforcement.  The scammers frequently use information acquired from legitimate online loan applications to trick their victims into believing that the scammers are truly representatives of their loan providers. These scammers use the threat of being arrested to intimidate their victims into giving them money.

Payday loans (also sometimes called “cash advances”) are small, short-term loans marketed to consumers in need of cash, which will be repaid – plus often high interest rates – on his or her next payday. Consumer advocates warn consumers against using payday loan services if possible, since they are a short-term solution that come at a very high cost.

Failing to pay a loan is not punishable by arrest. In fact, threatening to have someone arrested for not paying a loan is illegal. These scammers are trying use intimidation to trick their victims into giving them money. Here are some tips to help you protect your money:

  • If a scammer using this scam approaches you, or if you’ve already fallen victim, contact local law enforcement and file a complaint with NCL’s Fraud Center at www.fraud.org.  Law enforcement agencies need every lead they can get to arrest these criminals.
  • By stealing your personal information, the scammers have also committed identity theft.  The FTC has tips for what you can do if you are a victim of identity theft: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/defend.html
  • Be wary when applying for payday loans via the Internet. Not only do you risk exposing your personal information to criminals, online loans typically have higher fees and interest rates than loans applied for offline
  • Tell the scammers to only contact you by mail and to provide written proof of the debt in question. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires debt collectors to stop calling their targets if they are asked to do so.
  • Scammers often claim to represent official-sounding law enforcement agencies or financial institutions.  If you receive call from someone claiming to be from such an organization, hang up and call the organization in question directly.
  • Consumers cannot be arrested for failing to pay a loan
  • If you are insure whether you are delinquent on a payday loan, contact to lender directly to inquire about the status of your account.
  • Some scammers set up fake phone numbers and email addresses to trick savvy consumers into dismissing their suspicions as paranoia.  Look up phone numbers or email addresses for lenders on your own or, better yet, rely on your loan paperwork to find a legitimate contact number.
  • If the scammer threatens you, call the police immediately.

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