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Scams and ripoffs that consumers need to be aware of - Part 1

26 March 2014, 07:59

The loan finding ripoff:

There are many websites offering to help you find personal loans – but what is written in the fine print is that you’ll have to pay them a ‘sourcing’ fee – usually between R200 and R500 – no matter whether they’ve been able to find you a loan or not!  You see these adverts all over the internet – usually also targeting those who’re blacklisted and cannot find a loan easily.  The only problem is – they don’t try very hard to find you the loan you requested, instead just happily deducting their sourcing fee from your bank account and afterwards telling you that they couldn’t find you a loan!  Unfortunately this isn’t really illegal because they usually state all costs in their terms and conditions – even if they don’t explicitly tell you about the costs when you apply.  So how do you prevent this from happening to you?  ALWAYS read their terms and conditions BEFORE giving them your personal details.  Ethical companies who source loans will NEVER charge you just to apply for a loan.  They will only charge you once your loan has been approved and the money is paid out!  Examples are bond originators like Ooba and car finance originatorslike Carfin. 

If you need a loan – apply for a loan directly with a registered credit provider/bank.  The truth is – if registered credit providers decline your loan applications, they will NOT suddenly approve your loan because a third party applied on your behalf! The first thing to watch out for is that they don’t claim to be registered credit providers.  Instead they say that they only apply at registered credit providers on your behalf.  NEVER trust ANYONE if they’re not registered credit providers themselves!  Once you know their registration number, the second thing you need to do is a search on the National Credit Regulator website (www dot NCR dot org dot za) to check out their registration details.  If they do not have their registration number prominently displayed on their webpage, or if you’ve done the search but the information on the NCR website doesn’t match the information they’ve given you – then whatever you do – DON’T give them your banking details or any other personal details EVER.  Always double-check that the contact phone number on the NCR website is the one you’re using to contact them with.  If it isn’t – alarm bells should be going off in your mind!  Also check whether the company is registered on the CIPRO website and ensure that the details there do not contradict what’s shown on the NCR website.  These scamsters prey on those who’re desperate – leaving them even worse off!  The truth is that 99% of websites who offer loans online are SCAMS!  So it’s NEVER a good idea to click on ANY links that advertise loans.  If you need to make a loan, rather go directly to a bank – or if they won’t help, a well-known credit provider like Wonga. Also be VERY aware of fake Wonga websites – they look exactly like the real one, but the website address or URL will show that it’s a fake i.e. it won’t be a wonga dot com or wonga dot co dot za address.  And if Wonga won’t give you a loan then no other registered credit provider will either!   Do NOT let desperation turn you into a target for scamsters.  If your financial situation is really that bad, you should seriously consider other avenues like debt counselling.

The approved loan scam:

 This is another variation of the well-known advance fee scam.  You either apply for a loan with the scam artists by clicking on a website link(sometimes they have impressive websites!), or they send you a mail stating that you’ve already been approved for a loan.  Once you’ve contacted them to take up the loan - usually with great interest rates and low repayments, they demand that you must first pay X amount for whatever reason - the most popular excuse is that it’s a release fee or a due diligence fee/deposit.  Then when you pay X amount, they again contact you to tell you that you must first pay another Y amount before they can release the funds.  Once you’ve paid Y amount, they again contact you and tell you that you have to pay yet another amount before they can release the funds.  They either continue doing this until you realize they’re scamsters and stop giving them money for ‘fees’, or if they think they’ve milked you enough, they will disappear and dodge all further contact!

 Another variation of this scam is where they request that you buy airtime and send them the voucher number, which they promptly use to scam even more people.  They might ask multiple times that you buy them airtime and send them the voucher number.  They will keep doing this until you realize you’re being scammed and stop buying them airtime!

The truth is they were never going to loan you any money EVER.  If ANY loan provider tells you that your loan has been approved, but you must first make a payment or buy them airtime for whatever reason, the red lights and alarms should start blaring in your mind!  Only scamsters will ask for a payment before releasing funds!  And only scamsters will request that you buy them airtime and send them the voucher number!  So if ANYONE requests that you buy airtime and send them the voucher number, or asks for money up front, it’s a 100% chance that it’s a scam!Don’t let your desperation make you a target for these criminals.  Whenever applying for credit ANYWHERE, first check the National Credit Regulator website(www dot ncr dot org dot za) and check whether they’re registered credit providers – including double-checking their registration number as well as double-checking that the number you contact them on is the same as the number displayed with their registration details.  If ANYTHING seems even remotely fishy – don’t take the chance!  You’ll only be sorry if you do!  I’ve actually read on the web of a person who continued paying different ‘fees’ a total of 22 TIMES before realizing that they were never going to get the loan and that they’d been scammed!  And this same scamster used the details of a real credit provider to make themselves appear legitimate. 

Desperation can make common sense fly out the window if you're not careful!

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