Public Alerted to Rise in Online Loan Fraud
An Garda Síochána, in conjunction with the Central Bank, is warning the public to be aware of advance fee fraud as Christmas approaches.
Fee advance fraud forces individuals to pay a fee before receiving a promised sum of money that is never paid.
While people are busy preparing and shopping for Christmas, Gardaí has noticed an increase in this practice with a number of websites offering quick, easy and unsecured loans.
The person applying for the loan has to fill out a short application that searches for their contact details.
Upon receipt of these details, the victim received a follow-up phone call from what appears to be an Irish number.
They are informed when the approval of their loan is called but they are required to make an advance payment of the charge being paid into their account.
The reasons given vary, but may include an insurance fee, a facility fee, or an upfront payment.
The websites used in such scams look professional, but Gardaí says there are a number of red flags people need to watch out for.
- The common tendency for all of these sites is that they offer money quickly and easily.
- No guarantor or deposit is required and no verification of the individual’s ability to pay will be made and no document / proof of identity will be requested.
- The requirement that a fee is paid before the service is provided.
- The fraudster will pressure the victim to act quickly or the opportunity will be lost
- The company offering the loans is not regulated by the Irish Central Bank. Even though they may claim to be so regulated or will say they don’t need regulation as they have experience.
Gardaí warns people to never apply for a loan from an entity that is not authorized by the Central Bank.
People can check the official Central Bank website to see if a business is licensed here.
There are also instances where a business “clones” the details of an authorized entity by taking its contact details and pretending to be that entity or an associated entity.
Further information on unauthorized companies that have already been brought to the attention of the Central Bank can be found here.
It is important to be aware that there are scams that have not yet been brought to the attention of the Central Bank.
An Garda Síochána advises the public to:
- Never allow your account to be used by another person to transfer money or hold money for a period (long or short) as this allows fraudsters to carry out their crimes and deprives innocent victims of their hard earned money.
- Unfortunately, there are no easy and cheap loans available in the market and if the offer “sounds too good to be true, it is almost certainly too good to be true”.
- Always report the problem to your local Garda station.
- Stop and think before you commit
- Never give personal data to people you don’t know
- Always be on the lookout for fraud, especially when you receive an unsolicited phone call, email, text, or other unsolicited communication that leads to a request for personal or banking information.
- Never click a link in an email, text, or other message unless you know the source