Consumer Protection warns of faux personal loan websites
Scammers are wooing financially vulnerable Australians with online personal loan offers and then charging them “bogus” upfront fees, according to the government body Consumer Protection in WA.
WA Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Gary Newcombe expressed concern in a press statement for the financially vulnerable who are more likely to fall prey to bogus personal loan promises.
“The heartless nature of this type of scam is particularly disturbing, as it targets susceptible consumers who may have had difficulties getting loans from traditional sources and then preys on their excitement when they believe their loan application has been successful,” Newcombe said.
In this year alone, 9 people in WA have fallen prey to scammers and lost almost $20,000 online to these particular bogus loans.
Other types of common scamming includes identity theft, such as a recent case which saw customers ripped off by thousands of dollars from a fake website. The thieves stole the identity of the Sydney business Finance Money Australia Pty Ltd, by masquerading as them to catch unsuspecting Australians. The fake website has now been closed down.
Consumer Protection urged that people who search for personal loans online be wary of all loan websites, even if they look genuine, as it could be a case of mistaken identity.
“As the scammers are using the names of genuine loan providers, registration checks with ASIC will turn up a positive result, so we advise consumers to independently verify the authenticity of the company by using their contact details on their registration or via the white or yellow pages’ phone directories,” Newcombe advised.
Take note of these tips to prevent being scammed online:
• Keep informed by following the government funded body Scamwatch on social media, and check the website before applying for a personal loan.
• Look at the website url if you land on a page and find it looks a bit suspicious, because it could be a copycat website.
• Before you start typing in your details online, check to see if the website has a customer service hotline. If someone doesn’t pick up, alarm bells should be ringing. Sometimes scammers even go so far as to redirect calls from an Australian prefix code to another country, so don’t just rely on a phone number for authenticity.
• Be wary of requests to transfer funds upfront, as you may lose them forever.
• Get advice from Consumer Protection (1300 30 40 54) or ASIC (1300 300 630) before going ahead on any transaction you’re unsure of.
If you need to apply for a personal loan, don’t risk getting scammed. Use the Mozo comparison tool, which only compares personal loans from legitimate providers in Australia.