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5 Ways to know that a financial website is safe to use


18th May 2021 Down to Business

5 Ways to know that a financial website is safe to use
If you are looking for a financial product such as loans or credit cards, an online search is pretty much your first port of call.
With thousands of websites to choose from, there is lots of choice and the opportunity to get approved on the same day for a loan or new credit card and you can start using the funds immediately.
But with scams on the rise and millions of people across the US and UK falling victim to financial scams each year, there are a number of things you can do to check a website beforehand to determine if it is safe to use. This way, you can avoid falling for a financial product that is too expensive, does not actually pay out or uses your personal details fraudulently. 
  1. Check that the website is a real company 
Real companies can offer you loans or credit, but fraudsters will not typically have an address or phone number that you can call up. 
A legitimate website should have a local address clearly on their website, such as their footer, and a phone number that you can call - and it is worth making a quick call beforehand to ask a few questions.
Every trusted website should have license numbers, terms and conditions and a privacy policy on their footer and this should be detailed to include the company name, contact details and address.
You should also check to see that the company is on Companies House and is trading and you should use the FCA register which is free to check if a company is authorised, verified and usable for consumers.
If there is little or no trace of the company on Companies House or the FCA register - then stay away.
2. Look for reviews and check their social media 
A safe lender should have real reviews either on their website or externally. You should search on Google for the ‘company name + reviews’ and see if they feature in Google Business, Trustpilot, Feefo, Reviews.co.uk or other forums. 
David Beard of Lending Expert commented: “Where you are looking for a credit card, mortgage or secured loan, any reviews can be plagiarised very easily but real reviews will surface naturally if people have used the website and company. 
“No company has perfect reviews and if there are lots of perfect reviews, that could be fishy. You should see reviews that are an even balance of positive and negative - and this is the true indication of a safe and reliable lender.”
Equally, you should check their social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see if they are updating them regularly and what comments and questions are being asked by members of the public. Are the responses from local residents and are they asking legitimate questions?
A potentially dangerous site will not have any real social media presence and is likely to gain very little traction on social media. If the content and responses are not in english, this could be suspicious and you may need to stay away.
3. Is the website secure? 
A reliable lender or credit card provider should have an https// at the beginning of their website domain, which confirms that it is secure to use. This means that any data inputted on the site is under an extra level of encryption and is harder to be accessed by external parties or hackers.
Remarkably, anyone can purchase an SSL (https) certificate for around £100 per year, but a lot of illegitimate sites do not have this. And even if they are legitimate, you should probably not enter any of your personal details to a site that is not secure.
4. Look out for suspicious emails
If you have applied for a loan, you may find random offers entering your inbox. You must be wary of these since there are scammers who may offer you a loan but they may ask you to pay money upfront to release the funds.
David Soffer of Proper Finance commented: “You should never have to pay money in order to get a loan, this is a classic scam and should be avoided at all costs and reported to Action Fraud.”
“You should also be dubious of any emails with loan offers from Gmail or Hotmail accounts or with very thick english names like John Smith or Kate Jones, since these are just ploys to get you into believing it is a real lender, when it clearly isn’t.”
5. Check the language used  There are certain words that suggest a loan site may not be safe, including words like ‘guaranteed,’ ‘100% approval’ and ‘no credit checks.’ 
He continues “In reality, any regulated firm offering loans or credit cards needs to run credit checks or sufficient checks to ensure an individual can repay a loan.”
“They simply cannot offer a loan to everyone, or they would be bankrupt pretty soon! Imagine a person with no job, no income and no way of paying it back, there is no way that their loan can be 100% approved.”
In conclusion, when applying for a financial product, you may need to be a bit of a detective and you want to make sure that everything from the language, the regulation, reviews and process stacks up so that you can borrow in a safe and secure way.
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