One such notice warns, “A noticeable trend recently is websites that include the word ‘overstock’ in the domain name, hoping to fool consumers into thinking they are shopping with Overstock.com.”
BBB says to look for the real domain when it comes to major retail sites. Also type in the website name yourself instead of clicking on a link from an email.
The other recent notice warns of payday loans. It says, “High interest rates, unaffordable payment terms and high-pressure collection tactics … can make these debts impossible to get out of.”
The BBB cites a government study and says, “The annual percentage interest rates for payday loans average 339 percent.”
For those with no other options, BBB offers the following tips:
- Start with trust. Check out the company’s BBB Business Review to see its rating, history of complaints and other information.
- Never pay an upfront fee. Some short-term loan providers will ask for a post-dated check to cover the amount you borrowed plus interest and fees. However, if any lender asks for those fees in cash before giving you any money, walk away — especially if it’s an online lender asking for money via wire transfer. Charging undisclosed upfront fees is illegal, and cash sent by wire cannot be traced.
- Limit the amount you borrow. Only borrow what you know you can pay off with your first paycheck. Most companies will allow you to “rollover” the balance for several weeks or months, but will tack on fees the whole time. This can result in you owing several times what you borrowed in the first place.
- Know your rights. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures; in Texas, payday lenders are required to disclose certain information before initiating a loan. That information includes the cost, the interest rate to be paid and the specific fees that will be paid.
- Read the fine print. Pay close attention to fees and consequences of non-payment. Will the company allow you to make arrangements if you cannot pay?
- Keep your documentation. Many consumers said they started receiving calls from collections agencies years after they paid off a payday loan. Some of these calls were simple errors; others were attempts by scammers to collect a debt that is not owed. Protect yourself by having documentation that all loans were paid in full.
- Know where to turn. If you feel a lender has committed fraud or taken advantage of you, file a complaint with BBB, the FTC and the Texas Attorney General.