How you can protect yourself:
It’s your legal right to have everything in writing. Ask questions until you understand everything.
- Understand the total cost of the loan. It’s more than just the principal payment. Remember to ask about costs like interest, down payment, insurance and taxes. Interview many lenders and compare prices before you choose one.
- Don’t sign up for a loan or mortgage that must be refinanced in a few short months or years. Some predatory lenders will tell you the loan needs to be refinanced after a certain amount of time. Other lenders might give you loans they know you can’t afford to repay. And when you can’t, they’ll offer to refinance your loan with added fees and costs. You’ll never be able to repay these loans.
- Make sure there are no extra costs attached. Your loan should not include life or disability insurance, or other products you don’t understand or want. This insurance only protects the lender, not you.
- Say no to easy money. If the lender says your credit problems won't affect your interest rate, don’t listen.
- Don’t agree to lie on loan documents. Don’t let the lender pressure you into lying on your application. Make sure all documents are complete, truthful, and have the right dates.
- Don’t feel pressured – if you’re not sure, don’t sign. Talk to a free consumer credit counseling agency if you need help finding a fair loan. Ask these people if the companies offering you loans have had any complaints filed against them, or look for information on the Better Business Bureau website.
- Don’t sign anything you don’t completely understand. Always assume that any paper you sign is a contract. Before you sign any paperwork, ask a lawyer or trusted friend to go over it with you. Don’t sign a document with blank spaces. If there are blank spaces, anyone can write anything they want in those spaces and your signature will still be at the bottom of the page. All spaces should be filled in before you sign. Get copies of all the papers you sign.