Taking out a loan is serious business, and reputable brokers and lenders go to extreme lengths to keep their customers safe. That being said, there are still plenty of more unscrupulous figures out there who are more interested in making quick cash than doing things properly.
If you’re looking for a loan online, it’s important for you to keep your wits about you and to watch out for anything that seems untoward. This is because you’ll need to provide very personal information when making a loan application – the sort that a fraudster could use to impersonate you.
To keep your data safe and your identity protected, here are some of the most important steps to take any time you visit the website of a loan provider or online credit broker.
1. Pay attention to the website name
When you use a website, the chances are that you’ll have typed its name into your search bar or at the very least will see it displayed towards the top of your screen.
Also known as a web address, the proper name for this is a ‘Uniform Resource Locator’ (URL) and it’s what helps people to find your website. Ours Is https://www.wiltshire999s.co.uk/ – a unique address that will always direct readers to this website. That is, of course, unless they find their way to a very similarly named fraudulent site. These might use an underscore or other small characters to set their name apart enough to lead web users astray but not so much as to make them realise that something’s up.
Whenever you’re applying for a loan online, you should be very careful to double and triple check the URL of the website that you’re using. Even if it appears to be legitimate, any deviation from the website name you expected should prompt further investigation to ensure that you aren’t giving out your details to the wrong people.
2. Make sure that the website is secure
On the topic of website security, you may have noticed that the URL example we gave above featured some code-like letters at the start. These show whether a website is using a secure server or not, and you’ll usually see one of two prefixes when you click on the search bar:
- http:// – indicating that a website is not using a secure server
- https:// – indicating that the website is using a secure server.
The benefit of using an Https:// connection is that other web users will be unable to snoop on your personal details. This is particularly important if you’re applying for a quick loan online, since the information you’ll be giving will be sensitive.
3. Check that the provider is FCA approved
Whenever you apply for a loan online, you should always check that the provider is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
All legitimate lenders and online credit brokers will display their FCA registration number on their website, so it’s worth looking for this to ensure that the firm you’re dealing with is legitimate. To do this, you can use the FCA’s own online register which allows you to search either by name or reference number.
Once you’ve pulled up the FCA register entry, you can check a firm’s details against those of the site that you’re using to make certain that you’ve not accidentally found your way onto a bogus copy of that lender or broker’s website.
Since the FCA register sets out all of the relevant contact information for authorised firms, it’s easy to check whether the site you’re on is as it should be – and it really does pay to be cautious when it comes to handling your finances online.
4. Look for reviews
Finally, it only makes sense to check whether a lender or online credit broker has any reviews online. This will give you a real indication of how their products work and could help you to avoid poorly rated providers.
There are lots of sites online that play host to reviews for all sorts of financial providers – from Trustpilot to Google Reviews. Another example is Feefo, which allows customers to rate sites before issuing them with award relative to their performance. To provide an illustration of this, online credit broker Little Loans has been awarded Feefo’s ‘Gold Trusted Service Award’ – meaning that customers can trust them to keep their information safe.
If you’re applying for finance online, it’s important to think about the sites that you’re using and the companies you’re dealing with. Whilst the vast majority will be entirely legitimate, there are some out there that could play directly into the hands of fraudsters – leaving you worse off than before.
By using the methods outlined in this article, you can make sure that your details are safe, secure, and being used to help you to get hold of the money that you need.