Fraudsters seem to be targeting customers who have recently completed online applications for a loan. The customer then receives a telephone call from someone claiming to be from a business offering loans; the caller asks the customer whether they need a loan, how much is needed and what the loan is for, and then confirms that they can offer the amount required.
The customer is asked to pay an advance fee of between £50 and £350 in order for the loan to be processed which is to be sent via Western Union Money Transfer to India, where the company head office is allegedly based. Sometimes customers are sent documents including a poorly written contract for the loan. Often the documents have incomplete UK addresses – a fake address in Lewisham has been used recently – and telephone number.
Customers may then receive further telephone calls offering more advances before the loan is processed. The loans never materialise and when customers try to phone the number given on the paperwork they are automatically cut off.
Councillor Susan Wise, Cabinet Member for Customer Services, said: “Sadly, in these tough economic times there is always someone looking to make an easy living from someone else’s hardship. If you are approached with an offer of a loan look carefully at the company calling you; make sure you are satisfied they are legitimate. Whatever you do, don’t part with any money. A legitimate company will not charge you up front for processing a loan. If in doubt, always seek advice.”
Moneymadeclear (Consumer Financial Education Body) can offer advice to people experiencing financial difficulties – call 0300 500 5000 or go to www.moneymadeclear.org.uk. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau also offers a Lewisham Money Advice Service. Contact the service on 0844 826 9691.
Credit Unions can also offer loans – two in Lewisham are Lewisham Plus Credit Union on 020 8778 4738, and Deptford and New Cross Credit Union on 020 7277 7477.
For more information about consumer rights call the national Consumer Direct helpline on 08454 04 05 06 or go to www.consumerdirect.gov.uk or contact Lewisham Council’s Trading Standards team on 020 8314 7029.