How to protect your bank account from loan scammers

By Sabrina Karl

Fraudsters have honed numerous ways to separate you from your money, from outright theft of your personal information to sneaky ways of getting you to divulge it voluntarily. Since one of their deceptive tricks is posing as a loan provider, look for these signs of a legitimate lender if you’re looking to borrow money.


The Federal Trade Commission enforces numerous regulations on lending operations, including requiring all lenders to register in states where they do business. So one of the first things you can verify is whether the lender is registered in your own state.


The FTC also prohibits soliciting loans by telephone. So a marketing call for loan products is a strong tip-off that you’re dealing with a loan scammer. Also beware of offers mailed to you or pitched at your front door.


Legitimate lenders are keenly interested in your credit history when determining whether to approve your loan. So watch out for anyone touting guaranteed approval. Also beware if the lender never discloses that they’ll be pulling your credit report.


Another red flag of loan scammers is requiring you to pay application fees by providing them a prepaid debit card, a gift card, or a wire transfer. Although legitimate lenders are likely to charge fees, they typically add them to your loan balance rather than require upfront payment.


Lastly, any pressure to act very quickly before the offer expires is reason to pause. Legitimate loans may indeed have limited windows, but they will be sufficiently long to allow you to weigh options and make a careful choice.


A primary goal of loan scammers is extracting your bank account and social security numbers. So if you notice any of the warning signs above, be sure to keep your information private and move onto a lender you can verify.