Subprime Lending News 7/26/17:
Scammers target vets and student borrowers, Virginia credit lender forced to pay back half a million dollars to swindled customers, and yet another payday robbery.
By Caroline Thompson
Why savvy borrowers and veterans should be on the lookout for scammers, and more lending news for your Wednesday morning round-up.
Veterans make up one in three victims of investment fraud in U.S.
The FTC’s Consumer Sentinel reports that fraud complaints from veterans have risen 65 percent in the past five years, and scammers in this industry show no sign of slowing down. The circumstances of military life can leave many veterans and active duty service members uniquely vulnerable to financial scams, which are often presented as ways to help or simplify their lives. For example, a scammer might pose as a Department of Veterans Affairs employee, and ask vets over the phone to “update their information,” hoping to gain access to sensitive personal data like bank account and social security numbers. Charity scams and fake VA loan refinancing schemes are also on the rise, and to combat this, AARP’s Fraud Watch Network is teaming up with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and launching Operation Protect a Veteran. To report suspicious, vet-targeting potential scams, call (855) 800-9023 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Credit lender in Virginia Beach to pay $480,000 in refunds to customers.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has ordered open-end credit lender Alternative Finance to pay $480,000 in refunds and loan forgiveness to almost 600 of its customers, after the company violated the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. The lender allegedly offered customers short-term loans with interest rates of up to 240 percent without doing any kind of credit check that would ensure the customer had the ability to pay back their loans.
Debt-relief phone scams target students and recent grads.
The Connecticut Better Business Bureau is warning students and recent grads with student loans against falling for the ploys of fake debt collectors. The scammers call or email people with outstanding student loan debt offering ways to reduce or refinance their loans, setting up fake payment plans that go to the scammers, not to the victim’s actual principal or interest, and convincing borrowers to give up their social security and bank numbers, which can be used to steal their identity. The BBB recommends anyone who receives a suspicious email or phone call do their homework. Check the BBB’s website to see that the caller is from a legitimate company, and don’t pay any upfront fees to someone offering debt relief over the phone or email. Legitimate lenders charge fees after their service has been completed.
Armed men rob Texas payday lender.
Police are on the hunt for two men who robbed Advance America, a payday loan store in San Marcos, Texas, at gunpoint last week. According to police reports, the men threatened the cashier with a gun, and told her they would kill her if she didn’t comply as she cleared out the safe. She gave them the contents of the safe and they fled, but not before the security camera caught clear footage of both perpetrators. For more information on alternatives to payday lending in Texas, check out our Texas Financial Resource Guide.