Harrisburg, PA - Amidst the tidal wave of clever advertising for loans that promise quick, easy ways to pay for holiday expenses, Secretary of Banking and Securities Robin L. Wiessmann urges consumers to consider six alternatives to these deceptive “easy money” loans from unlicensed, out-of-state lenders.
Wiessmann explains how these lending schemes work:
- These loans, often in the form of payday loans or car title loans, range from $100 to $1,000, although some go higher. Including interest and fees, these loans demand that you pay 300 to 1,000 annual percent rate (APR), which is unlawful in Pennsylvania.
- Many of these loans are short-term (due in two weeks to a month) while some loans take years to repay, often with added, unexpected charges.
“Normal family and individual financial pressures are often made worse during the holidays because of short-term decisions about cash that too often lead to long-term financial problems,” said Wiessmann. “We hear the stories of too many people who decided they needed cash immediately – and they took out loans with shockingly high amounts of interest, losing their cars or motorcycles, or being hounded illegally by debt collectors.”
Wiessmann points to alternatives to “easy money” loans that include:
- Ask if your bank offers short-term loans, or consider the Credit Union Better Choice program, which features short-term loans offered by credit unions;
- Talk to trusted family or friends, local community and/or religious organizations;
- Ask your employer for a payroll advance;
- Try to negotiate with your creditor to give you more time or raise your credit limit;
- Pay the late fee on your bill: more than likely it will be less than the interest rate on that “easy money” loan; or
- Work with a lender licensed by the Department of Banking and Securities.
As part of the department’s “Holiday Scam Protection Week,” Wiessmann urges consumers to call 1-800-PA-BANKS to make sure that their lenders are properly licensed to do business in Pennsylvania, or to discuss their situation confidentially with a trained professional. Learn more about the risks of “easy money” loans online at: www.dobs.pa.gov/Consumers/Learn/Pages/Easy-Money.aspx.
“Although scams may take different forms, the underlying method is often the same: preying on emotions, circumstances, or lack of knowledge to take financial advantage of another party,” Wiessmann added. “Consumers and businesses cannot afford to take every financial opportunity or transaction at face value. This holiday season, everyone is going to have to be more diligent and investigate before investing their money or sharing personal or financial information.
Anyone can contact the Department of Banking and Securities at 1-800-PA-BANKS or 1-800-600-0007 to ask questions or file complaints about financial transactions, companies, or products. Members of the public are also invited to connect to the department through Facebook and Twitter, or subscribing to the department’s newsletter.
MEDIA CONTACT: Virginia Lucy - 717-214-4759
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