WEBSITES THAT offer FAST, unsecured loans target financially weak people before Christmas, gardaí warned.
The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau warns the public of an ongoing advance payment fraud in which websites offer unsecured loans.
Several websites that offer the loans are aimed at financially weak individuals who are struggling to obtain loans from established financial institutions.
The website will often suggest that it is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland when it is not and will give a fake Irish address.
It aims to offer loans that can be processed quickly by asking the loan applicant to complete an online application.
The applicant then, within a very short time – often minutes – receives a phone call or other communication letting them know that their application has been approved and receive the monthly repayment and the total amount of the loan, which sometimes offers more than was requested .
The victim is asked to transfer a small amount of money to the lender before the loan amount is granted, with reasons given that it is an installation fee; Personal protection insurance on the loan amount; or the first installment of the loan to prove they can make the loan repayments.
If the loan applicant sends the requested amount, no loan will be granted and the advance fee will be lost.
In one reported incident, a Dublin resident contacted a company to obtain a loan and was asked to send a € 680 security deposit to guarantee the loan.
When they transferred the money, they did not receive the loan and had no means of contacting the company.
What to look out for
Gardaí says the warning signs on these websites include that a lender is asking for a prepayment; the website, which is a quick and easy way to get a loan online; and the loan is approved very quickly.
The applicant can be urged to pay in advance immediately, usually on the grounds that the offer would be withdrawn if the fee was not paid.
The providers of the loan usually have a fake address, an incorrect or otherwise incorrect zip code for the address on the website, and an incorrect phone number.
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They do not require proof of the applicant’s ability to repay the loan, nor a surety or collateral.
There is a lack of face-to-face meetings and the lender is not regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, although it can claim it is.
The loan applicant may be asked to pay the fee in cryptocurrency in advance.
Gardaí advises the public never to pay any money upfront to a lender before the loan amount has been drawn and never to apply for a loan from a company that is not regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
People who want to take out a loan can check the officer Central Bank of Ireland website to determine if a company referenced on a website is regulated in Ireland to provide financial services.
Loan applicants should do their research and offer a loan, including checking that the address, zip code, and phone number are legitimate, using real financial services providers or services from MABS.