The internet can be a scary place, especially when it comes to your financial information. Especially when it comes to lenders who offer bad credit loans online, you’ll find a lot of sketchy businesses looking to prey on the very people coming to them for help. Like all online businesses, though, there are just as many legitimate lenders offering bad credit loans online, so it’s important that you learn to tell the difference between the good guys and the bad.
Not Every Online Lender is On the Up and Up
Online businesses as a whole, and financial institutions who operate online in particular, have gotten a bad rap, and it’s no wonder. There are have been some pretty spectacular cases of fraud in financial institutions that operate online.
For example, Japanese-based Mt. Gox, one of the world’s largest Bitcoin exchanges, closed up shop and filed for bankruptcy in 2014, taking upwards of $450 million in customers’ cryptocurrency with them. It was later found that the money was slowly stolen from Mt. Gox over time, but that discover didn’t get those people back their Bitcoin.
The Mt. Gox scandal isn’t the only one we’ve seen in the world of internet finance, but it certainly makes an impression, and it only makes sense to be a little wary of giving sensitive information over to anyone on the internet.
It’s important to note that even large and very reputable companies experience security breaches that result in the dissemination of customer information which may lead to fraudulent transactions, not just online lenders. It’s almost impossible to keep your information completely out of databases that may be at risk, since even the government has experienced data breaches.
How Can You Tell the Difference Between Reputable Lenders and Dangerous Scam Lenders?
There are several ways to check and see if an online company is legitimate, and all of these absolutely apply to lenders who offer bad credit loans online
Simple Red Flags to Watch For
There are a few things that can act as obvious warnings if you just know what to look for.
First off, make sure that any site you’re thinking about handing over personal information to has a little closed lock before the site in the address bar on your web browser. You can also check for an ‘s’ after the http in the address bar. That indicates it’s a secure site.
Next, watch for misspelled or extraneous words in the web address. Scam sites may use a name similar to that of a reputable site, build it up to look similar, and then sit back and capitalize on web traffic that only occurs because of a simple typo. Also watch for spelling and grammar errors on the site itself. As it turns out, many scam artists don’t take the time or put in the effort to spell check.
See if the site has been around a while by using archive.org. Scam sites tend to not stay up long, so you might suspect any site started in the last year.
Watch out for deals that seem too good to be true. Chances are, they probably are. A site offering bad credit loans online with a 1% interest rate, for example, is probably not legitimate. People tend to think of bad credit lenders as less reputable, but you’re likely to find a site offering loans for excellent credit, as well.
How to Keep Your Identity Safe While Shopping for Bad Credit Loans Online
Invest in Encryption Software
Encryption software will basically scramble all the information that you send out from your computer, making it tougher for hackers to access for those times that you must give out your information, like if you’re applying for bad credit loans online or even loans for excellent credit.
Even if you don’t use software specifically to encrypt your data, be sure that you’re utilizing your computer and browser’s built-in security features. Keep your firewall on and the security level turned up. Be sure to keep your browser and your operating system up to date to make sure your computer is protected from the latest threats.
A good anti-virus program can go a long way towards keeping your information safe, as well, by blocking malware, keystroke trackers, and other potentially dangerous files and programs from being installed on your computer.
It may seem unimportant, but the strength of your online passwords can absolutely act as a deterrent to people trying to discover your passwords to access your information or use your accounts. Make sure that you use a combination of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols if they are allowed. Avoid common phrases, too. If you can remember it, a random arrangement of all of the above types of characters is even better.
Keep Your Personal Life Private
When you share too much on social media, you may be making it easy for fraudsters to find your accounts and potentially find their way into them. They may be able to parse together a passable application for credit, even, based on what you say online. Social media oversharing is another way that hackers are able to figure out passwords.
If you feel you must share, at least make sure that your privacy settings maxed out. This will help make sure that your info is only visible to those you want to see it. Remember that privacy settings aren’t foolproof, though. If one of your friends gets hacked, the person with access to their account can now see all the information you’ve listed in yours.
Be Vigilant While Navigating the Web
Make sure your keeping an eye on the security status of sites you visit, the actual addresses that appear when you click a link, and any warnings that your browser pops up in regards to a site or before you download a file from the web.
Keep a Close Eye on Your Credit Report
Watching your credit report will help you catch any misuses of your information. The quicker you report identity theft to the creditor or bank, the faster you’re able to get the issue taken care of. It could even stop them from gaining access to your money if you’re quick enough. Most financial institutions are happy to help if a loan for excellent credit is opened fraudulently in your name, but be prepared for a hassle!
Consider Identity Theft Monitoring
Since the threat of identity theft is very real, no matter how careful you are, consider enrolling in a identity theft monitoring program like Experian’s IdentityWorks that will give you an added layer of protection when you must hand over information to a company online, like if you were applying for a bad credit loan online.