Fake loan offers
When borrowing money be aware of scammers offering fake loans.
Be especially suspicious if you're asked to pay money upfront.
Legitimate lenders will not ask you to do this.
Here we explain how to identify a fake loan and what to do if
you've been scammed.
How to identify a loan
Scammers are skilled at convincing people that their loan offer
is real. Here are some of the warning signs:
- You receive a call or email telling you that you qualify for a
loan from a company that claims to be a registered Australian
company or Australian credit licensee. They may even have an
Australian phone number or address to appear legitimate.
- You're asked to make upfront payments before you get the loan,
to pay for things like insurance, tax or initial repayments.
- You're asked to deposit your upfront payment into an Australian
or overseas bank account, a cryptocurrency wallet or a gift card
for the scammer to redeem.
- You're emailed from a generic email address, for example, a
gmail, hotmail or outlook account, or an email address that looks
like it's from a legitimate institution but is spelled
- You're approved for a loan amount that is more than you
- You're offered a low interest rate.
Case study: Peter loses $3,000 in a loan scam
enquired online about getting a loan for $60,000 to buy a boat. He
then received a call from a lender who gave him an Australian
credit licence number.
The fake lender approved Peter for the loan and emailed him a
loan contract. Peter signed the contract and emailed back copies of
his identification documents.
Peter was then asked to transfer $3,000 into an Australian bank
account to cover the insurance for the loan. Peter wasn't worried
about doing this as the lender had sent him a seemingly legitimate
invoice for the transaction.
After 2 weeks Peter started to get worried as he had not
received the loan funds. He tried to call the lender but there was
no answer to his calls or reply to his emails.
This case study is based on a true story. Read ASIC's media release about loan
Things to check before getting a
Do your own research. Don't rely only on the information the
lender gives you.
Here are some checks you should do:
- Check the company is real by calling their publicly listed
phone number. Don't follow any links or use phone numbers included
in emails - find this information separately. This is the most
important check you should do as scammers impersonate licensed
companies and will give you a real company's credit licence number
to appear legitimate.
- Check if the company's name is on ASIC's list of unlicensed
companies. If they are, don't deal with them.
- Check ASIC Connect's Professional Registers to see if they are
licensed by ASIC. You can also phone ASIC on 1300 300 630 to do
- Check ASIC Connect and search within 'organisation and business
names' for their Australian Company Number (ACN).
- If you are contacted by someone after submitting an online loan
application, don't assume you know who you are dealing with.
Scammers can hack legitmate websites of some smaller lenders to
Be wary of identity theft
Be wary of giving out your personal details, including copies of
identification documents like passport or drivers licence, or bank
account details. Overseas scammers may use this information to
steal your identity. Read more about identity fraud.
Check the company's publically listed number
Do not accept unsolicited offers of credit from unfamiliar
lenders and only deal with reputable online institutions, after you
have checked they are the real company by calling their public
What to do if you have been
- Stop dealing with the person - do not respond to emails or
- Report the scam to ASIC
- File a police report at your local police station
- Warn your family and friends
- Put yourself on the Do not call register to reduce
- If you have lost money and are in debt you may need financial
If you have been scammed you will lose any money you have
transferred, which could be thousands of dollars. If you have given
the money to a fake lender, you won't be able to take your
complaint to an external dispute resolution service as this service
only handles complaints about licensed lenders.
Scammers are skilled at convincing people that
the loan offer is real. Be suspicious of anyone offering you
easy money. There is almost always a catch.
Last updated: 18 May 2018