Predatory lending generally refers to unfair lending practices that benefit the lender at the borrower’s overwhelming expense. This is accomplished through exploitative and abusive loan terms, which typically include:
All of these unfair lending practices are designed to benefit the lender, who often employs over-aggressive sales tactics to force you into deals. This lending practice is designed to take advantage of the average borrower’s lack of understanding of loans and financial transactions. Many predatory lenders resort to outright lying and deception. And in the worst cases, they will threaten violence or litigation against borrowers in order to collect debts.
While predatory lenders can target anyone, they most often go for more vulnerable populations, like:
There is thankfully a wide range of low-risk, affordable options for people who need money quickly, like the alternative payday loans available from Possible Finance. However, those who don’t know about alternative options can easily fall prey to predatory lending practices.
People who are desperate for money or simply don’t know better are easy targets for predatory lenders. Knowing what to look for and avoiding these red flags can prevent you from falling victim to this kind of abusive lending practice. Here are some common warning signs for a predatory loan.
Most legitimate lenders will look at your current income and check your credit before even offering a loan. If you are working with a reputable lender, they will not skip this step. This helps the lender assess how you have dealt with previous debts, your ability to repay future loans, and the potential impact of taking on more loans. A lender who does not, at the very least, consider your regular income likely does not care about your ability to repay.
A reputable lender will likely take the extra step of making sure you can repay the loan while also affording your everyday expenses. In fact, Possible Finance makes this a requirement for its loans. Predatory lenders will not consider your ability to pay for food, housing, and other everyday bills.
While plenty of modern transactions are done digitally, no lender should require electronic payments. More specifically, no lender can demand access to your bank account for payment collection. Many legitimate lenders may ask for access to allow for convenient automatic payments, but this is by no means the only option they will provide for receiving payments.
Predatory lenders may use your bank account as their own personal ATM and make constant payment requests and withdrawals until your account is empty, at which point you may have to deal with an excess of overdraft fees.
Reputations can be hard to gauge, but before you ever sign a loan agreement, make sure you do some research on the lender. The Better Business Bureau frequently offers customer ratings and reviews, allowing you to see any potential complaints prior borrowers have made so you can avoid signing up for a predatory loan. The Federal Trade Commission also offers scam alerts, while the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a complaints database that allows you to look up lending companies by state.
All lenders are legally required to state the APR (annual percentage rate) of the loan. This includes the full sum of the interest rate plus any upfront fees. Any fees that are hidden in the fine print will arbitrarily increase upfront costs and inflate the APR. Both of those components only make it harder for the borrower to repay the loan while adding significant costs upfront, easily trapping the borrower in a cycle of debt.
All lenders make risk-based pricing decisions, like basing interest rates on your credit history. However, even if you have bad credit, the interest rate on your loan should still be manageable given the repayment period. Predatory lenders will abuse this, charging interest rates in the triple digits to borrowers who are already at a high risk and more likely to default.
Predatory lenders are also more likely to add unnecessary services and products onto your loan as a means of making more money upfront. For example, it is not uncommon for predatory lenders to add on insurance to your loan amount. They can then add the insurance premiums to the loan amount, which increases how much you pay in interest. The predatory lender earns commissions on these premiums or may ask for several years of premiums paid in advance.
Approval periods can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the type of loan that you are applying for. Predatory lenders will try to rush you through the approval process, forcing you to sign paperwork before reading any of the loan term agreements. This allows them to get money more quickly into their pockets while preventing you from thinking too hard about the loan term agreements.
Loan flipping refers to a process wherein a lender coerces a borrower to refinance their loan again and again without ever benefiting from that refinancing. While that refinancing might initially appear to put money back into your bank account, the high interest rates, increased fees, and prepayment penalties of a refinanced loan render that extra money irrelevant. It simply puts more money in the lender’s pocket while trapping the borrower in constant debt burdens.
Predatory lenders will frequently misrepresent the terms of the loan or blatantly lie about those terms. That can be difficult to determine without reading every bit of your agreement, but be aware of language like:
Similarly, a lender should not ask you to lie in order to push an approval. This is another way for lenders to rush the process and partake in unfair lending practices. Do not lie about your income, credit, or any other aspect of your finances, even if your lender says that you can. Doing so can lead to severe legal problems later on.
A good lender from a reputable financial institution will not raise any of the above red flags. Instead, they will be fair and transparent in your interactions with them, and make sure you understand what you’re agreeing to. A good lender:
The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives to predatory, high-cost loans that will not hurt you or force you into a cycle of debt.
Traditional or instant payday loans have a high potential to be predatory because they often come with unnecessarily high interest rates and short repayment periods. But payday alternative loans (PALs) offer fairer terms with the same short turnaround time. Payday alternative loans from federal credit unions usually come with lower interest rates and longer repayment periods. Furthermore, while credit unions will not base your loan on your credit history, they will report repayments to the major credit bureaus, which can help borrowers improve their credit scores.
Related: How Can I Raise My Credit Score in 30 Days
Payday loans from Possible Finance are a similar alternative. Possible Finance’s payday loans offer quick approval with repayment installments over several months, and rescheduling options when necessary. Furthermore, Possible does not require good credit, but we do help you build your credit by reporting repayments to the three credit bureaus.
Installment loans allow you to borrow all your loan money at once while repaying the loan in fixed monthly payments (installments). For borrowers with bad credit, lenders will look at your existing debt, your regular income, and your monthly transactions to determine your financial behavior and your qualifications.
A wide range of loans are considered short-term bank loans. Payday loans are technically within the “short-term loan” umbrella, but short-term bank loans provide you with a loan that is designed to be repaid within one year. Short-term bank lenders will perform credit checks, look at your paystubs, and otherwise consider your financial history to determine your ability to repay. You may still have to deal with high interest rates, but short-term bank loans will generally be fairer and much more transparent about their terms.
Predatory lending is an unfortunate practice that is likely not going anywhere soon. But learning the red flags and staying aware of other financing options can ensure that you don’t fall victim to predatory lenders. Possible Finance offers a great option for those looking for quick cash without the high risks, high costs, and potential abuse of predatory lending. To learn more about our alternative payday loans, contact Possible Finance today.