How To Stay Safe When Applying for An Online Loan

Applying for a loan has never been simpler. Obtaining a loan used to include visiting with a lender in person to discuss your choices and fill out a loan application. Today, you can submit an online application from the comfort of your own home, giving you much more choice and freedom.

However, as more people apply for loans online, there is an increasing concern about protecting your identity from cybercriminals and hackers. Due to the fact that lenders get sensitive information digitally, through a website, or on email, some criminals will try to see the email’s web applications to illegally abuse an applicant’s information. Read on to find out just some of the things you need to do to make sure your application is not something that causes you problems. 

Use A Reputable Lender 

Only choose well-known and reputable lenders to guarantee the security of your personal and financial information. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a bank or other lender just because you’ve never heard of them, but if that is the case, make sure you research them thoroughly before handing over any information. 

Some cybercriminals will put up bogus loan websites to get your personal information. So, before you apply for a loan, make sure your loan officer or broker is registered with the appropriate professional bodies, as this will give you additional protection and peace of mind. UK credit broker advise, “If you are applying for a loan online, remember to check the website for an FCA registration number (usually at the bottom of the website). You should then check that the number matches the record on the FCA register. Lenders and brokers regulated by the FCA agree to treat customers fairly, and dealing with FCA authorised companies also means that you have a governing body to speak to if you are unhappy with your service”.

Use A Secured Network to Apply 

As well as finding a reputable loan company or using a well-known bank is also critical to submitting an online application over a secure network. Make sure your home network is password-protected so that criminals cannot get access to it. In this way, even though you still have to send your sensitive information online, it is much safer – it will be encrypted as well, so even if a hacker were able to access your system, they wouldn’t be able to understand the information they were stealing, and it will essentially be useless. 

Applying for a loan on a public network is never a good idea. Because many of these networks are not secure, a cybercriminal can easily gain access and steal your information whenever they want to. 

Be Careful with Emails 

Although email is a fast and simple way to interact with your loan company, and although many email providers such as Google will do all they can to offer protection, it’s not necessarily the most secure choice, so exercise caution. Many hackers send thousands of phishing attacks in the form of emails, hoping that a tiny number of people would mistake them for legitimate ones and take action. The spam emails will usually ask victims to click a link to a dangerous website to complete a form that sends all their personal information to the criminal. 

Because these fake websites are intended to seem exactly like real banking websites, what you think to be a legitimate email inquiry from your loan officer may actually be a fraud. To be safe, always double-check the sender’s email address before replying to email queries. If you don’t recognize the email or if the message seems suspicious, call your bank to check. 

Upfront Fees?

Fees are not required upfront by reputable lenders, so if you see any kind of website or loan company asking you to pay them to give you a loan, that’s not right. Any fees associated with your loan, such as interest, should be included within the original amount and will be paid back over time; you will never have to pay anything before receiving your money, and your first loan payment leaves your bank account. 

Thieves often employ the advance-charge scam in which they persuade you to pay a fee for them to complete your application. There are legal loans that need costs to apply for, but these are usually big loans, such as house loans (you may have to pay for a credit check, an appraisal, and so on), and those fees are explicitly explained, often on official disclosure papers. If you are obtaining a personal or car loan, you should avoid paying any upfront costs. If you do end up paying a charge, the ‘lender’ will know you’re desperate for the money, and they will probably keep asking for more and more money and never actually give you the loan you’ve requested at all. 

Western Union Payments 

If you are asking for a loan, you are attempting to get funds, and as we’ve mentioned above, that shouldn’t mean having to pay anything. Again, some loans include genuine costs, but you can usually pay with a check or a credit card or deduct the fees from your loan amount. 

It is almost certainly a scam if lenders demand money through wire transfer or other fast payment methods. This could include asking for money through Western Union, for example. When you transfer money like this, it’s gone for good, and it’s difficult to track down who received it. A lender who accepts checks, on the other hand, needs a bank account in order to deposit those checks (which law enforcement can easily find), and credit card processors are quick to shut down vendors who get a high number of complaints.

Information Gatherers 

In your search for internet lending sites, you will come across companies that unequivocally state that they don’t lend money. The internet is teeming with lead-generating sites that sell your information to lenders. Lead generators are excellent at marketing; you need a loan, and they can assist you in locating someone who is ready to lend to you. Several big websites do this and provide a useful service (while making money on each loan they arrange), but shadier operations will create issues. 

When giving information to sites that claim to search around for the best loan for you, be cautious; they may just sell your contact information to a slew of predatory lenders (or identity thieves) who will persistently try to extort money from you or use your information to set up false identities and borrow money in your name. 

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