The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) warns the public against the activities of unauthorized lenders who offer fraudulent credits to consumers.
The FSMA has received several reports from consumers about fraudulent credit offers made via the internet. Consumers get thus in touch with these providers in a variety of ways: they are approached unsolicited via mail or social media, or they find advertisements on the internet. The FSMA noticed, for instance, that fraudsters place ads on classified advertising websites.
Persons present themselves via the internet as lenders or credit institutions without having the legally required authorization. These non-authorized entities offer consumers credit at very attractive conditions. If a consumer wishes to take up the offer, he or she is asked to make certain payments supposedly to cover costs relating to the credit (dossier fees, administrative costs, insurance premiums, etc.). Once the payment has been made, the 'lender' 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.
The FSMA offers the following general recommendations for recognizing these fraudulent offers of credit:
- Be wary if you receive an unsolicited credit offer via the internet or via social media;
- 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 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' disappears and the victim never recovers the money transferred;
- 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;
- 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.
More than ever, then, vigilance is necessary. In case of any doubt, feel free to contact the FSMA directly via the consumer contact form.