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Beware of predatory lending

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One of the dangers facing consumers with bad credit comes from predatory lenders. These are lenders who try to primarily take advantage of people that have trouble borrowing from a legitimate lender.

Compare Credit Cards for Bad CreditWhile predatory lending is not defined by federal law, with states classifying it in different ways, it may involve loans with terms that cannot be met and practices that strip away home equity.

Predatory lenders often target elderly and low-income consumers, people with bad credit and those who are unfamiliar with home loans and mortgages. 

While people with a good credit score have more options when borrowing money, those with bad credit or who fall into one of these categories tend to have fewer choices.  As a result, they may be susceptible to offers from predatory lenders.

However, predatory lenders do not offer access to money at fair rates with reasonable rates and terms.  Instead, their offers generally involve incredibly high interest rates and fees, as well as unnecessary costs and unaffordable repayment terms.  The offers from such lenders may even be illegal.

Consumers should be careful any time they are offered "bargain loans," deals that promise having no credit is no problem, and offers that are only said to be available for a short time.

Borrowers should question whether they are encountering predatory lending if they feel pressured, and if they are promised next-day approval or "guaranteed" low-interest loans.

Instead of rushing into a loan agreement, consumers need to make sure they understand the terms of any loan before agreeing to borrow, and check that what they are asked to sign is the same as what they discussed with the salesperson.

Consumers with bad credit should do their homework to make sure they are dealing with a trustworthy lender.  To do this, they can request references from the lender and check them out.  Additionally, a phone call to the local Better Business Bureau should help determine whether there have been any complaints about that specific lender.

Separately, it is worthwhile to compare the lender's rates and total costs to those offered by other lenders and local banks to determine if they are in line with what else is out there.

Specific examples of illegal predatory lending scams include loans that require advance fees.  It is against the law for anyone to request or accept payment for their services before the consumer actually gets the loan or credit. 

Additionally, if companies offer to "release" the consumer's mortgage for a fee, be aware that a mortgage cannot be released for a fee.

To comment on this story, write Editors@CreditCards.com.

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Published: May 25, 2007


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