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Here's how you can avoid loan scams during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

A lot of families are struggling financially right now and scammers are looking to take advantage of that

MACON, Ga. — A crisis like the coronavirus pandemic can bring out the best in people, but it can also bring out the worst.

Kelvin Collins with the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia has more information on the latest loan scam.

A lot of families are struggling financially. Unfortunately, scammers are really taking advantage of that.  Collins says scammers are on the lookout to prey on unsuspecting families.

“There are a lot of people who need money now and it's a really good opportunity for scam artists to try to offer them some type of loan or in some instances a grant, and it usually ends up costing the consumer either upfront fees or things like that,” said Collins.

He says it’s a good time for his agency to educate consumers on what to do if a scammer comes to you and offers a loan or some type of grant.

“You really need to ask questions and make sure it's a legitimate company that's reaching out to you and not someone that's just trying to separate you from your hard-earned money,” said Collins.

There are several red flags to look out for. He says a lot of times if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

“Make sure you're not wire-transferring money to anyone or using a gift card -- and this is something they try to do. You have to pay an administrative fee or some type of fee upfront and they get you to send that to them in an unusual way. Whether it be Venmo or cash app pre-paid credit card or debit card or wire transfer. Those are the ways you won't get your money back. You can't track [it] and you're just sending your money to someone and you'll never see it again,” said Collins.

So, anytime there's an usual form of payment, you stay away from it. If they promise to give you a loan regardless of your credit history, that's another red flag.

“We see a lot of people who've been turned down at the bank for a loan, yet they see something that guarantees that they'll get the loan. Well, why would this company want to give you a loan when you were turned down,” said Collins.

He says when you see those it's usually an advanced paid loan that you end up having to pay money for and typically the normal consumer is going to lose around $900 for some of these loans.

You can find more types to protect yourself from scammers at BBB.org

The Better Business Bureau also recommends researching companies that offer loans carefully and to never make a payment to an individual, always to the company.


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