On Your Side Alert: Warning about email loan offers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There is a warning about a suspicious email that may show up in your inbox. It's an offer for a loan. If you need some quick cash, it may sound good but consumer experts say don't reply.

The subject of this email is "Do you need a loan?" If you do, the sender says all you have to do is reply for more information. For many, the answer may be yes but Dana Wiggins, with The Virginia Poverty Law Center says to just say no. She says the random offers are not legitimate. "If you get one of these emails, you need to delete it. If you are being solicited and you didn't go out looking for a loan, just send it into the spam folder," she explains.

Wiggins says more than likely, the loan offers are from predatory lenders. There are a number of ways you could end up on the email list. Many times it happens if you've already applied for a loan online. "You may have put your email in some sort of sweepstakes or your email may have gone on to some sort of form that got sold a million times. From one company to another, people's information is now the new commodity," Wiggins says.

If you're looking for a loan, she says an unsolicited offer shouldn't be where you start. Wiggins says you should contact a reputable credit counseling agency. You can find a list and helpful information at debtadvice.org, or you can contact The Virginia Poverty Law Center. "We come across a lot of clients who have taken the bait. We do run a hotline for people who are having issues with loans," Wiggins told us.

She says she's never heard of anyone actually receiving a loan from one of these internet offers. In fact, you may actually end up losing money. Many times the company will tell the consumer because of bad credit, they need to prove they can pay for the loan and get you to send money. Most of times, they will get you to pay with a pre-paid card, so the money can't be traced. "What we hear from many consumers is that they lose any where from 200 to even 800 dollars or more. Brick and mortar is a lot more stable. There is a place to make complaints to if that is necessary. Online you really have no idea who you are dealing with, so it is best to stay away," she says.

As a rule of thumb, if you didn't inquire about it, chances are it's not something that will benefit you. If you think you're the victim of a predatory loan or you have questions about a loan, you can contact The Virginia Poverty Law Center's Payday Loan Hotline. The number is 866-830-4501.

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