If you need to borrow money to consolidate credit card debt, make home or auto repairs, or pay other unexpected bills, a personal installment loan may be an option.
Most personal loans are unsecured, meaning they don’t require collateral like a house or car, and typically have higher interest rates than secured loans.
Paying a higher interest rate is one thing, but when it came to one online lending company, customers were caught off guard by what the FTC says were lies and illegal conduct.
Today, the FTC announced a settlement with Avant, LLC, a company offering personal loans online. According to the FTC, Avant deceived customers in a bunch of ways about what and how they were supposed to pay. For example, the FTC alleges that Avant:
- advertised that it would take payments by credit or debit cards when, in many cases, it wouldn't;
- illegally required customers to agree to automatic payments from their bank accounts;
- deceived customers about the amount needed to pay off their loans;
- collected — or tried to collect — more money from people who paid the quoted payoff amount; and
- made unauthorized charges on customers’ bank accounts.
The settlement bars Avant from engaging in similar conduct and requires it to pay $3.85 million to thousands of customers harmed by its loan servicing practices.
If you’re shopping for an online loan, do some research, especially if you’re not familiar with the company. Type the lender’s name into your favorite search engine with terms like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” If you find bad reviews, you’ll have to decide if the offer is worth the risk. After all, it’s only a good deal if the loan and servicing experience lives up to the written promises.
If you think a company has violated the law, tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
For more information, check out our Credit and Loans page.