Business loan scams are schemes designed to con you out of your money or your personal details; such as your bank account details, PIN numbers, internet banking login details or even your identity. When seeking a loan, it is important to know what to watch out for. There are various scams and frauds around, especially in this online age, and it is important to protect your data and your money.
What to watch out for:
Fraudsters often want to be paid upfront or ask you to pay Payment Protection Insurance before your loan can be released to you. You should never be charged an upfront fee and should be suspicious of any charges before the release of funds.
Pressure to Act
High pressure tactics are often employed in these scams. This is to get you to act without fully thinking the transaction through. This often means that they will push you to sign an agreement immediately and will discourage you from consulting your family and friends.
Look for other customer reviews (for example on Google or Facebook). Testimonials on these loan companies’ websites may seem great, however, you should be able to find the customer’s business online (through a link to their website, or by google searching the business and owner’s name). Another objective and credible review site to look at is TrustPilot. Other forms of endorsement that provide authenticity can be partnerships, for instance GRID is part funded by Enterprise Ireland as well as being partners with other well-known organisations.
There should be a padlock symbol on the webpage that takes personal details (https://). This is acquired by having an SSL Certificate for your webpage. The ‘s’ in https:// means the site is secure and is usually safe to enter personal details. However, an SSL Cert is easy to buy for only about €20. Just because the website is secure does not mean that the person running it is trustworthy, but it is a good place to start.
Reputable companies proofread everything, so mistakes will be rare. Simple spelling, grammar and sentence structure are frequently incorrect on a scam website. Having URLs or hyperlinks misspelled or with random extra letters or numbers in them (google1.ie / goggle.ie) are another big clue to the presence of a scam.
Fraudsters don’t really care about credit history. They rarely do checks on your identity or your ability to repay the loan. Your credit background should always be thoroughly checked by a legitimate company. If a company is going to approve your loan despite a negative credit history, they may be targeting you in the hopes to benefit from your vulnerable situation.
Companies Registration Office (CRO)
If the company is claiming to be operating in Ireland either as their main office or subsidiary office, then they will have a CRO number and can be found on the CRO website. For instance, GRID’s CRO number is 529532, we are registered as Grid Finance Impact Limited but we trade as GRID Finance. It is not unusual for a company to have a different trading name to their registered name, but this will be made clear on the CRO.
If the company say they do not operate in Ireland, it may be more difficult to authenticate them. However, you could contact the embassy or consulate of the country that the company claims to be from, and they may be able to guide you.
What to do if you are caught by a scam:
“Where you believe you have been the victim of an online scam or fraud you should report it to your local Garda Station, and also use the online reporting service of the website or forum on which you were scammed. When reporting to your local Gardaí, bring copies of all emails, account details, copies of the advertisement or online posting and any other relevant information you may have.” – An Garda Síochána https://www.garda.ie/en/Crime/Cyber-crime/I-ve-been-caught-out-by-an-online-scam-What-should-I-do-.html
Whether you’ve been caught by business loan scams or personal loan scams contacting An Garda Síochána is the best course of action.