In some situations, a personal loan could be the answer to financial woes. If approved, you get the money in days for whatever you need — medical bills, car repairs or something else. But fraudsters target folks who look for quick cash. Watch for these signs of potential trouble:

Your payment history is ignored

Any company that says it doesn’t care about your credit history has no intention of lending you money. A lending institution wants to know whether you pay your bills on time and in full. It needs some assurance that you will repay what you borrow. Data from a single credit bureau may not be enough. The lender might look at all three bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Lender isn’t registered in your state

Search the business’s website for a list of states where it legally does business. According to the Federal Trade Commission, lenders and loan brokers must register in the states where they conduct business. If you can’t find your location on the lender’s site, visit your state attorney general’s office or department of banking or financial regulation website. A prepaid debit card is required

You shouldn’t pay to get a personal loan. Yet scammers ask borrowers to provide a prepaid debit card for insurance, collateral or fees. Legitimate financial institutions may charge a fee for your application, appraisal or credit report, but those charges are deducted from your loan.

Lender’s website is not secure

Make sure a padlock icon appears somewhere on the pages where you are asked to type in personal information. Don’t override any warning saying a site’s security certificate has expired and pay attention to the URLs you click on. If the site address doesn’t show “HTTPS” at the beginning, back away from your device. That “s” means secure.

Lender has no physical address

When you find a lender online, go through the site to determine its physical location. Does it provide a street address? Even if it does, it may be a fake. Plug the address you find into Google Maps to see whether there’s a business located there. If you don’t find any indication of the location, you should avoid the lender.

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