The Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) warns Floridians of frequent advance fee loan scams. The scam starts when a consumer is told that they qualify for a loan or credit card, but must pay a fee, security deposit or insurance to process their application. Once you pay the fee, the scammer walks away with your money, leaving you without a loan.
To avoid becoming a victim, follow these tips:
- Verify the lender license. The OFR provides consumers with convenient online access to licensing information of lenders and investment professionals who are licensed in the State of Florida.
- Don’t pay for the promise of a loan. It is illegal for a loan broker to charge any fees in advance of a loan closing.
- Question any fees. You may be asked to pay processing and application fees or the first month’s payment. If you are you are assessed a fee prior to closing, and you are not dealing with a licensed lender, you may be the victim of advance fee loan fraud.
- Get your agreement in writing. Ask the lender to detail in writing specifically why the fee is being assessed. If you’re dealing with a loan broker and paying an advance fee to receive the loan, chances are it’s a scam.
- Be wary of companies that advertise “No Credit Check” or “Guaranteed Loans.” No loan is ever guaranteed.
To report suspicious activity, please file a complaint with the OFR online or call 850.487.9687.