Online Loan Fraud

How does it work?

Online loan fraud is a common method that scammers use to manipulate customers into giving out personal information and asking them to send funds through multiple different channels. Customers submit a loan application online that they found through an ad or website. They typically guarantee the loan will be approved regardless of credit history. The scammer asks for online banking credentials to make a direct deposit into the customer's account. The scammer deposits a fraudulent check and asks the applicant to purchase gift cards, wire the funds, or purchase a Western Union before they can receive the proceeds of the loan.

What are the red flags?

  • They are asking for your online banking credentials. A legitimate financial institution will never require online banking credentials in order to take out a loan or conduct a direct deposit. It's never a good idea to share this information.
  • They are asking you to purchase something with the funds that were deposited. Customers should never have to purchase gift cards or send money via Western Union before receiving the proceeds for a loan.
  • They are asking you to pay an individual. Payments for a loan should not go to an individual person. Lenders will never pressure you to wire funds or transfer money via ACH.
  • They aren't interested in your credit history. Legitimate lenders can never guarantee someone will be approved for a loan before they review the application.
  • The upfront fees aren't disclosed. The scammer will try to say the funds from the direct deposit are for "processing," "insurance," or just "paperwork." Any fees should be clearly disclosed by the lender.

What can you do to prevent it from happening?

  • Protect your personal information. It's never a good idea to share login credentials or account information, especially with someone you've never met.
  • Read the fine print. If the details of the loan are hard to understand or difficult to follow, it could be a sign that it's a scam.
  • Monitor your bank account for unauthorized charges. Keeping an eye on your account is always a good practice. If you see something that wasn't authorized, call your bank to ask them about it, and dispute it.

For more information on how to keep your online banking account safe, refer to the Online & Mobile Security section of the Fraud Information Center.