by Bridget Small
Some scammers build and market websites that claim to offer loan-matching services. The sites convince people to share personal information, but instead of delivering help, the operators scoop up people’s information and sell it for their own profit. The FTC settled with one online operation that followed this pattern. Blue Global, LLC hosted dozens of “loan matching” websites that invited people to give detailed personal and financial information to be matched with a lender. The websites claimed to offer a secure online application, but the FTC says the websites didn’t protect information as promised. The sites also said the business would search for the lowest interest rate based on the person’s request. Instead, each loan application was sold to the first buyer, even if the buyer wasn’t even a lender, according to the FTC. In one period, the websites took 15 million applications, and only 2% were matched to a lender — and many of those people didn’t get a loan.
The company agreed to:
- stop making misleading claims about its services, and
- share a person’s sensitive information only after it checked-out a buyer and the person has given consent to have the information shared.
The FTC and the company also agreed to a court order restricting what the company tells consumers about its services, and who may receive loan applications.If you get calls or emails from companies you don’t know, it might be because someone sold information you provided online. Before you fill out an online form or application, check out the company. You can search online for the company name plus the words “complaint” or “review.” Does the company explain how it will protect your information? Find out who will get your information before you share your Social Security number or financial details. If you’re thinking about an online payday loan, shop and compare offers from other kinds of lenders first. If you have trouble with business or your information and has been misused, tell the FTC.