The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) once again warns the public against the fraudulent activities of unauthorized lenders or credit intermediaries approaching consumers who are looking for credit.
The FSMA regularly receives questions from consumers about the trustworthiness of “lenders” or “credit intermediaries” who approach them unsolicited via the internet with attractive offers of credit. This often happens via mail or social media. Such messages are for the most part simply spam.
Persons present themselves as lenders or credit intermediaries but often do not have the legally required authorization or registration. They nevertheless offer consumers credit at attractive conditions. They do not shy away from using the names of authorized entities. For example, they claim to be an intermediary for a well-known bank. These are cases of identity theft.
If a consumer tries to take up the offer, he or she is asked to make certain payments supposedly to cover various costs relating to the credit (for example, so-called dossier fees or administrative costs). Once the payment has been made, the person disappears without a trace, and it is nearly impossible to recover the sums that were paid. The FSMA thus advises absolutely against responding to such offers of credit. Spam emails must be deleted at once without responding to them.
By way of illustration, we offer the following example of an offer of this type:
Hello how are you i am Carole i am a providers of credits loans and investments 10.000€ to 80.000.000€ you want to buy cars pay them but you need investment in your business or other project i am very simple and collaboration with different banks in the whole world that are charged to do the payment to your bank account in every country if you are interested please contact me to get your credit.
Hello, I am an agent of the bank XXX and we offer loans on a long or short term, varying from € 5000 to €500000 with an interest of 2% per year.
Contact us if you need financial help and for more information.
The FSMA offers the following general recommendations for recognizing these fraudulent offers of credit:
- Recognize spam messages. Spelling mistakes, unclear logos and vague email addresses that have nothing to do with the lender are important indications.
- Verify the email addresses used. Such providers often use email addresses that end with @hotmail.com, @gmail.com and @outlook.com. Authorized lenders in principle use a professional email address.
- Beware of any offers of credit on unusually favourable terms (a loan that is very large in relation to the consumer's financial situation, at an extremely low interest rate, with a particularly long repayment period, etc.) that would not usually be granted by authorized lenders.
- Be all the more suspicious if the lender or intermediary asks that you first pay of a sum of money intended to cover certain costs before issuing the loan. The justifications given for such a payment can vary: they may be called an insurance premium with a view to insuring the lender against default on the loan, dossier fees, authentication costs, administrative costs, etc. These costs are purely fictitious. Once the money has been paid, the “lender” or “intermediary” disappears and the victim never recovers the money transferred.
- Always check the identity of the lender. If the person or company cannot be clearly identified, do not trust them.
- Find out whether the lender has the requisite authorization. Via the search engine on the website of the FSMA, you can easily determine whether the person has the requisite authorization or registration. Persons without an authorization or registration may not offer you credit.
- Be wary of "cloned firms". These are companies that pass themselves off as different, lawful companies even though they in fact have no connection with the latter. A close look at the email addresses or contact details for the companies in question may prove useful in order to avoid potential fraud of this sort.
- Consider doing a search for the person using the customary search engines. You may find testimonials by people who have already been approached by him or her. But be alert, as sometimes these are falsely positive testimonials posted by the lenders themselves in order to gain the confidence of investors.
- Finally, always be wary if you receive unsolicited emails, i.e. if you did not request the contact. Such emails are often the first step in a fraudulent practice.
More than ever, then, vigilance is necessary. In case of any doubt, feel free to contact the FSMA directly via the electronic consumer contact form.