The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has warned about lending scams where scammers impersonating genuine Australian companies and Australian Credit Licence holders have been targeting consumers asking them to make upfront payments for loans that are never provided.
Some victims have lost thousands of dollars after making a loan enquiry online. They general receive either a telephone call or email advising them that they have qualify for a loan and sometimes offering more money than the original loan application and are then provided with fake loan contracts.
While the scammers appear to be operating from overseas, they are using Australian credit licence numbers or company numbers belonging to genuine businesses that have no connection to the scam. What’s more they also appear to use re-routed Australian phone numbers to give the impression that they are located in Australia.
The scammers then advise victims that they must pay fees or insurance for the loan, usually to Australian bank accounts set up specifically to receive these payments, before the loan can be provided. The deposits requested have been as high as $5400 per consumer and after making these payments the victims never receive the loan.
ASIC have reiterated to consumers that legitimate lenders who are authorised under the credit laws in Australia generally include the establishments costs as part of the loan and don’t ask for any fees to be paid upfront.
ASIC Deputy Chairman, Peter Kell said:
“If you are asked to contribute fees or insurance costs before you are advanced any money under the loan, you should treat the proposed transaction with a great deal of suspicion. This is a classic warning sign of a scam.”
“Consumers should always take steps to make sure they are dealing with a legitimate business by only dealing with those they can reach through publicly available contact details”, he said.
ASIC also warns that consumers are further putting themselves at risk of identity theft by giving out personal information to people they don’t know or who don’t make their contact details available publicly.
Practical Tips for Avoiding Online Lending Scams:
- Only deal with reputable online institutions
- Do your background checks, but be aware that scammers can pretend to be a licensed credit provider located in Australia.
- Be very suspicious of any requests for upfront payment, even if making a deposit into an Australian bank account.