— Pete Seger
The Federal Trade Commission recently published a warning about advance fee loan scams.
Q. What is an advance fee loan scam?
These scams happen when persons are cheated by scammers promising needed loans in exchange for an up-front fee.
The promised loans are non-existent, but the loss of the up-front fee is painfully real.
Q. What are the signs of an advance fee loan scam?
The FTC has identified several “red flags” that indicate scams.
1. A lender who isn’t interested in your credit history.
Ads that say “Bad credit? No problem.” or “We don’t care about your past. You deserve a loan,” or “Get money fast!” or even “No hassle – guaranteed.” often indicate a scam.
2. Fees that aren’t disclosed clearly or prominently.
Scam lenders may say you’ve been approved for a loan then demand an up-front fee for “insurance,” “processing,” or just “paperwork.”
3. A loan that is offered by phone.
It is illegal for companies doing business by phone in the U.S. to promise you a loan or credit card and ask you to pay for it before they deliver.
4. A lender who use a “wanna-be” or copycat name.
Crooks give their companies names that sound like well-known or respected organizations and create websites that look professional.
5. A lender who is not registered in your state.
Lenders and loan brokers are required to register in the states where they do business. Tennessee’s Department of Financial Institutions confirms registration and takes consumer complaints at tn.gov/tdfi or at 615-253-2023 or 800-778-4215.
6. A lender who asks you to wire money or pay an individual.
Don’t make a payment for a loan or credit card directly to an individual. In addition, do not ever use a wire transfer service or send money orders for a loan.
James B. “Jim” Hawkins is a Tennessee general practice and public interest law attorney. This column represents legal information, and is not intended to take the place of legal advice. All cases are different and need individual attention. Consult with a private attorney of your choice to review the facts and law specific to your case. To suggest future column topics, call 615-452-9200.