Scam artists have created a deluge of loan companies and scams targeting borrowers seeking help with the cost of the holiday season, according to the Consumer Finance Association.
The sites promise instant cash without credit check in an attempt to target desperate people who have been turned down by the traditional lender.
But victims who are lured by fake marketing are at risk of being stung.
Fraudsters can charge a fee to unlock loans that never show up. And in other cases, unregulated businesses mean consumers are exposed to high-risk borrowing and collection methods.
Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of the Consumer Finance Association, said: “These dodgy sites offer no protection to borrowers, but they can be attractive to unsuspecting borrowers, especially those with poor credit histories and who are tempted to take out loans they cannot. To be able to pay.”
At the same time, there is expected to be a spike in stolen identities being used to make fraudulent applications for mortgages, checking accounts and insurance policies, according to Experian.
Trusting older couples and retirees is a key target, the credit history provider said.
Nick Mothershaw, Director of Experian, said: “It’s that time of year when fraudsters like to give themselves a Christmas present…using someone else’s identity.
“We have seen identity fraud attempts soar this year, led primarily by checking account fraud, which gives identity thieves a stepping stone to a wider range of financial products.
“The brunt of recent increases has been felt by older members of society, who often have good credit ratings and have lived at the same address for a long time.
“They now account for one in 20 current account fraud detected in the UK.”
How to avoid being defrauded this Christmas
*Avoid websites full of spelling mistakes and bad grammar
*Reputable credit and lending sites will be authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and will have an authorization number – check this is a genuine lender on the FCA website
*Genuine websites start with ‘https’ rather than ‘http’ and should have a padlock icon in the address bar when entering card details.
* Do not update software via email as it may be wrong as it may lead to malware in your device
*Avoid paying by money transfers which aren’t secure, and reputable sellers won’t ask you to do so, according to Nationwide. It is best to use an online payment option such as PayPal or a credit card which offers better protection.
*Never give out your account details – no building society or bank will ask you for your personal bank details and information. If asked, it’s probably a scam.