The Better Business Bureau has the following advice for those looking for a personal loan:
* Be wary of applying for online loans through unfamiliar businesses or websites. Many of these online application sites are run by scammers or by people who sell your information to scammers.
* Understand that requiring fees be paid as a condition of receiving a loan is illegal.
* Do not do business with anyone who cannot give you an address that you can confirm as legitimate.
* Read any contract carefully and make sure you understand all requirements before entering into any agreement.
* Official-looking loan documents and sophisticated looking websites are easy to copy or fake. Just because a business appears legitimate, doesn’t mean it is.
* Check for a BBB Business Review by going to www.bbb.org or call 800-649-6814.
WICHITA, Kan. — The Better Business Bureau is warning area residents to be mindful of fictitious lenders using BBB's name in fake loan schemes after a Kansas woman recently lost several hundred dollars.
An Arkansas City woman recently received a phone call from United Personal Only, who told her they already had her bank account on record and she qualified for a $5,000 loan. The caller said the company was located in Houston and listed with the Better Business Bureau.
The caller told the woman that she would need to pay $300 in advance to demonstrate her ability to pay the loan, saying "the BBB likes people to show that they can make payments on time.”
She then went to an area Walmart and put $300 on a reload-able Green Dot MoneyPak prepaid card, thinking she was creating an account she could use to transfer loan payments. She was not aware that by giving United Personal Only the numbers on her card the money could be accessed immediately.
When the company received the money, they told her they needed more for "insurance" She then contacted the Better Business Bureau and closed her bank account.
The BBB believes the company is not a real business, as it uses the same number of another fictitious company, United Personal Loans. The Houston address is also invalid.
They believe United Personal Only contacted the woman because she has a history of searching for loans online.
“Desperate times are leading people to the Internet to apply for loans and many are falling deeper into debt after getting tangled up with fictitious lenders who have little regard for the law,” said BBB President and CEO Jim Hegarty. “Consumers nationwide continue to be victimized by sophisticated loan scams that demand up-front fees for personal loans that are never delivered.”
“The bottom line is that it is illegal for companies to promise you a loan and ask you to pay fees in advance,” added Hegarty. “Also, if you are handing over your personal information to get a loan without doing your research, you could be setting yourself up to have your account drained by offshore scammers.”