NEWS RELEASE
Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.


February 4, 2002 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

ATTORNEY GENERAL WARNS CONSUMERS TO BE WARY OF ADVANCE-FEE LOAN SCAMS

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., advised Maryland consumers to be wary of advertisements that offer "quick and easy" loans, credit cards or mortgage loans, but then require consumers to pay an up-front fee.

"Consumers who are in financial difficulties are often victimized by phony offers of easy credit," Curran said. "They are asked to send money in advance, and then never receive the loan or credit card."

Curran said these kinds of offers often appear in the classified section of newspapers, but also appear on local cable stations, the radio, or the Internet. The advertisements offer "guaranteed" loans or credit, even for people with credit problems or previous bankruptcies. When consumers contact the company, they are told they must send money in advance, as an application fee or a deposit. Once the con artists get the money, they disappear, and, of course, the consumer never receives the loan.

The Attorney General said that legitimate lenders never "guarantee" or say that a consumer will receive a loan before they have evaluated the consumers' creditworthiness. Also, legitimate offers of credit do not require payments in advance.

He advised consumers to:

  • Be extremely skeptical of offers that imply a guaranteed loan or credit card, regardless of credit history.
  • Check out any company offering a loan with the Maryland Division of Financial Regulation at (410) 230-6097. All businesses offering consumer loans in Maryland must be licensed with the Division.
  • Contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at (410) 528-8662 or toll-free 1-888-743-0023, or the Division of Financial Regulation, if they have been a victim of an advance-fee loan scam.

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