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As the number of lenders who conduct their business online rise, so does the number of loan scams in Canada. With the exception of these scams, online private lenders have changed the financial landscape in a positive way. Borrowers who were being turned down by banks and other traditional lenders can now qualify for loans.

Getting the funds you need in an emergency can help alleviate financial burdens. To ensure you can get the money you need without worrying about being scammed, here are tips on avoiding scams.

This guide will help you navigate the online loan market and identify a loan scam from a mile away.

Can You Spot Loan Scams In Canada?

Equipping yourself with as much information about how a legitimate loan company should work is one of your best defences. Performing a Google search about online loans available to Canadians will yield millions of hits. This can be extremely intimidating. Fraudsters and scammers try to take advantage of this. They understand that the online loan world can be overwhelming. And they often prey on those who are financially vulnerable.

Those with limited options are often targeted as they may be more desperate for the funds. As such, they may overlook potential signs of fraud.

Signs Of A Loan Scam In Canada

This is the best piece of advice we can give you: if anything seems off, then trust your instincts. Here are a few things you need to be aware of when looking for an online private lender.

Sign #1 – Is The Loan Offer Too Good To Be True?

Private online lenders are more willing to work with people who have lower credit scores or other financial issues. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll lend to anybody. You’ll still need to show you have some sort of income or ability to repay the debt.

You need to ask yourself: “Is this deal too good to be true?”

If you’re doubtful of the legitimacy of the loan being offered to you, you need to trust your instincts. No lender can guarantee you a loan, not even the most accommodating one. No lender can offer absurdly low-interest rates or extremely large loans. If something seems too good to be true, unfortunately, it probably is.

Sign #2 – Do They Have An Online Or Real World Presence? 

Double-check that the lender you want to work with has an address or an office. Many scammers will use empty lots or random residential addresses. If you notice that the location of the lender’s address is another company’s address, then that’s a sign of a fraudulent lender.

For more information about how Loans Canada is dealing with loans scams, click here.

Sign #3 – Do They Have Reviews?

If a loan company has worked with a significant number of people there should be at least a few reviews. Do a few Google searches to ensure the lender you’re working with is legitimate. Check their reviews on google, reddit, and other third party websites.

Just make sure you take any reviews you read with a grain of salt. Often people who defaulted on their loans, because they mismanaged their money, will write bad reviews. But like we said before if your gut feeling tells you something isn’t right then definitely believe it.

Sign # 4 – They Ask For An Upfront Payment

One of the most common loans scams and one that should be a huge red flag for you is when a lender asks for one or more payments upfront. This means that they want you to give them payment for a loan that you haven’t received yet. Typically what happens is that you’ll send them an agreed-upon amount (could be as little as $40 or as much as $1,000) and then you’ll never hear from them again, never get the loan you needed and never get the upfront payment back.

In case you are ever in a situation where a lender is asking for an upfront payment, here are a few common excuses they might give you for why they need the payment before you even get your loan:

  • For loan insurance to cover the loan amount
  • Because you need to make your first payment to verify all your information and personal details
  • We need your first payment to pay someone to set up your loan and make sure everything is in order so you can get your loan on time.

The number one thing you need to know is that no legitimate loan company will ask you to make your first loan payment upfront before you receive your loan. Be wary and if the lender you’re working with does ask this of you, stop all business with them and look for a new loan company to work with.

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Types Of Loan Scams In Canada

There are various types of loan scams in Canada to be aware of. In general, these are the most common you’ll come across:

Upfront Payment Loan Scams

One of the most common loan scams out there is the upfront loan scam. This involves a personal loan scammer or a payday loan scammer asking for a payment prior to giving out the loan. These scammers will usually disguise the payment as an application fee or a loan insurance fee. However, it is illegal in Canada for lenders to ask for any upfront payment.

Guaranteed Approval Loan Scam

Many fake personal loan scams and payday loan scams will use this technique. Scammers will advertise loans that offer guaranteed approvals, which can be appealing to those with bad credit and poor finances. However, any lender that doesn’t do some form of credit check or a financial background check, is likely a scam. Legitimate lenders will often require credit checks, proof of income, bank statements and other documents to verify whether you can repay the loan. 

Payday Loan Scam

A common payday loan scam involves a person pretending to be a debt collector. They will call you and claim that you owe a certain amount of debt and that if you don’t pay it back you’ll be charged with a crime or that they’ll take you to court. Some of these scammers may have some of your personal information which may make the person seem legitimate, however, it’s best to call your lender to confirm its legitimacy.

What Should You Do If You’ve Been Scammed? 

Unfortunately, every year hundreds if not thousands of people are scammed out of their hard-earned money. If this has happened to you, regrettably there isn’t that much you can do but as soon as you realize you’ve been scammed the first thing you need to do it report it.  

Reporting the scam is so important because it’s one of the only things that might help because these scammers work exclusively online it’s hard to catch them. Letting the authorities handle your case is your best bet, and it could potentially help others in the future.

  • Report Scam To The Police – Go to your local police or call their non-emergency number to report the scam. 
  • Report Scam To The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre – The best way to report a loan scam is by visiting the website of The Canadian Anti- Fraud Centre and by following their directions.
  • Contact Your Bank –  Contact your bank to update them on your situation. Often bank information is exchanged during loan scams, so alerting your bank will help them track your account for any suspicious activity. 
  • Contact The Credit Bureau – You should also contact your credit bureaus to add a credit alert to your file. This will help add some protection from your identity being used to open credit products under your name. 
Note: To learn about how loan scams target vulnerable Canadians, check out this article we wrote for the Better Business Bureau.

Loan Scams In Canada: Media Reports

Take a look here to see some media reports on loan scams in Canada:

Avoid Loan Scams In Canada And Get The Loan You Want

Private lenders are one of the best alternatives to banks and more traditional lender; they are a great option for those who need more personalized help with a shorter timeline. We don’t want you to be scared of seeking a loan from an online private lender; we just want you to be diligent and prepared to deal with any fraud that might present itself.

We want you to get the loan you need, so be thorough with your research and wary of anything that seems too good to be true.

Loan Scams In Canada FAQs

Can I regain my money after being scammed?

The unfortunate truth about losing money to loan fraud is that you’ll probably never get your money back. This is why it’s extremely important that you know the warning signs and arm yourself with the right knowledge so you can avoid being scammed in the first place.

How do payday loan scams work?

There are numerous payday loan scams in Canada. Some of the more common ones include a payday lender asking for an upfront fee, which is illegal in Canada. Another scam involves a scammer creating a fake payday lender website. Once you enter all your private information, they pull money from your account and then disappear. When applying for any loan, be sure to look for the loan scam signs mentioned above.  

What is identity theft?

Identity theft is a type of fraud that uses your personal information to gain access to various credit products. When a fraudster steals your personal information like your driver’s license or SIN, they can use it to open accounts under your name. This can lead to a lot of debt and can massively affect your credit score.

Caitlin Wood, BA avatar on Loans Canada
Caitlin Wood, BA

Caitlin Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Loans Canada and specializes in personal finance. She is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University and has been working in the personal finance industry for over eight years. Caitlin has covered various subjects such as debt, credit, and loans. Her work has been published on Zoocasa, GoDaddy, and deBanked. She believes that education and knowledge are the two most important factors in the creation of healthy financial habits. She also believes that openly discussing money and credit, and the responsibilities that come with them can lead to better decisions and a greater sense of financial security.

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