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Every day in the United States, hundreds of people turn over the last of their hard-earned money to scam artists. According to the FBI, scams related to cash advances and loan offers add up to millions each year.
How can so many be defrauded so easily? Careful criminal planning.
American and overseas operations start by creating websites that resemble those of a government agency or a familiar banking institution like Citibank, Money Mutual or First Financial. They advertise loan offers at very low rates on these websites, but they never make a single loan. They simply collect your personal data including bank account numbers, social security numbers and more. They deny every applicant, BUT the information they’ve collected is a gold mine.
They sell it to a second operation. Using a familiar bank name and the target’s personal information, this second company has little problem convincing unsuspecting consumers that it’s legitimate. Often, it explains that it has “more flexible” loan requirements because it is larger or more efficient or specializes in a certain area. The borrower need only prove they can make the first payment to win the loan. Here’s where alarm bells should go off. The “loan agent” then asks the borrower to put the first payment on a Walmart Green Dot or other cash card or wire the money electronically.
When the loan amount doesn’t arrive in the borrower’s bank account, the “loan agent” explains that another sum is needed for insurance. This technicality can be taken care of, again, by putting the amount on a cash card and providing the cash card numbers to the “loan agent” . . . as soon as possible, of course. To learn more signs of certain fraud, read the Beware Common Cash Advance and Loan Scams: Clear Signals of Fraud page in our consumer notices section.
Most of us can’t comprehend taking someone else’s money let alone spending months constructing elaborate schemes, telephone scripts and letters to defraud people in sometimes desperate situations. Our own rejection of such malicious acts sets us up to believe the friendly “loan agent” at the other end of the line really does have our best interests at heart. When a loan proves to be fraud, many prefer to keep the incident to themselves. If you’re in this situation, please don’t let embarrassment paralyze you. These criminals worked hard to concoct the perfect fraud. You didn’t stand a chance. BUT by reporting everything you know to the proper authorities, you can help keep more people from becoming victims. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the FBI both work hard to find and shut these scams down. If you or a loved one has become a victim of fraud, report the crime to the FBI at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx. If an illegitimate “loan agent” uses the name First Financial, please call us right away at 800-315-7791 so we can report it to the state attorney general’s office.
First Financial proudly adheres to strict ethical standards set by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). If you need funds for medical bills, car or computer repair or anything, fill out one of our easy loan applications. With automated services and low overhead (no physical buildings to staff and power), we can charge lower rates and fees than neighborhood banks. Stay connected to First Financial’s offers through our Facebook.
“Upside down” is only fun for kids.
Adults know too well it’s all about owing more money on a large asset than it’s worth. More, they are responsible for that debt. Many homeowners were upside down in their home loans from 2008 to 2012.
Some don’t realize that a car buyer, particularly a new car buyer, can spend several months to two years upside down in their car loan. You may ask: what’s the big deal about owing more than the car’s worth if you’re going to keep the car for several years? Problems arise when the car gets stolen or crashed. More serious problems arise when buyers realize they bought too much car and can’t afford it anymore. Unexpected medical expenses, job changes, new babies and even floods and fires have a way of tightening budgets very quickly. Sell the car, and you end up paying the bank an additional $1,000 – $5,000 to fulfill loan requirements.
Car buyers who are smart with their finances take a long-term view. Just a few adjustments to the car-buying plan ensures you won’t go upside down on your car loan.
Buy Used and Make a Good Deal
It’s common knowledge that a brand new car loses 11% of its value the minute the car buyer drives it off the lot. After one year, this new car loses 20% of its value and by five years, many cars have lost half their value. These average numbers don’t reflect the wide variety of car depreciation rates. Depreciation rates are faster for unpopular cars, slow for the popular models. But who knows what will be popular in 5 years?
The bottom line is to let the original owner to pay the first few years’ depreciation costs (one of the highest costs of vehicle ownership). Buy a car that holds its value. Financial planning and organization website Bankrate.com lists the makes and models of autos that hold their value most tenaciously. For 2014, these are the Hyundai Accent, Mazda 3, Chevy Corvette, Toyota Avalon, Kia Soul and Chevy Camaro. Any of these tickle your fancy?
The other advantage of buying a used car with a low depreciation rate is that you’re less likely to have a hangover loan amount into a new loan when you buy a new car.
Put Down a 20% Down Payment
This move will take care of the annoying taxes and fees outright. Paying interest on these taxes bumps these abstract fees even higher. Since car buyers get nothing for these charges, it’s best to dismiss them ASAP. Also, putting down 20% jumps you ahead of depreciation so that you leave the lot with a vehicle worth as much as or more than your loan. Also, manufacturers’ cash-back rebates can go right to that 20% down.
Consider A Loan Term That Is No Longer Than How Long You Plan To Keep The Car.
Some people are in the habit of buying a new car every two years. Others have just as much pride driving a 20-year-old “beater.” While, typically, car loan terms extend to just 5 years, recently, six and even 10-year loans have come into the market. If it’s your nature to keep a car until it dies, a 10-year loan makes sense. If you’re family is changing either by adding or removing members (kids born; kids off to college), you may be trading up or down when those events occur.
Get the Best Interest Rate You Qualify For
Online, and other alternative banks can offer lower auto loan rates because they labor under a fraction of the marketing and operating costs that saddle the large, bricks and mortar banks. More, online banks typically don’t have shareholders demanding higher profits every year. While the difference in the loan rate may be one-half of one percent, these charges add up to thousands of dollars saved over five years.
ALWAYS Comparison Shop to Get the Lowest Price for the Model You Want
Aside from homes (and maybe shoes?), cars evoke more emotion than most other large purchases. Cars reflect our identities. They are accessories we live with from two to 20 years. If you’ve found the perfect pumpkin-spice-colored Kia Soul, rest assured there will be another one across town or in another month. Go into the car dealership with your emotions fully under control. This experience must be ruled by the mind, rather than the heart. Remembering that you’re not just saving another $2,000, but $2,000 plus six to nine percent yearly interest keeps you sober and PICKY.
First Financial Provides Auto Loans, Bad Credit, Good Credit and More!
First Financial has been in business long enough to recognize the subtleties in each borrower’s financial situation. We also know that more than 50% of Americans fall into the subprime category. Their credit ratings range from “fair” to “poor” to “bad.” Our lending partners accept auto loan applications and approve these borrowers every day. Apply for an auto loan here today! Follow us
Have you been surprised with a terminated merchant notice? You’re not alone. Each year, tens of thousands of business owners get the same notice for both legitimate and unnecessary reasons. Terminated merchants have several options available. Landing in “Terminated Merchant File” (TMF) doesn’t mean you’re out of business. While these designations are confusing and even infuriating now, rest assured that A+ rated First Financial can help get you back to accepting credit cards fast.
For a long time, the term “terminated merchant list” served as a casual designation indicating that a merchant has become “black-listed” with even high risk merchant account service providers. MasterCard made the system official by creating a database about businesses and their owners whose merchant account services providers had terminated them. They gave the new system the acronym MATCH for “Merchant Alert to Control High Risk.” At this time, most in the industry use this terminology.
When terminated merchants get in contact with us, their designation “MATCH-listed” has come as a surprise. Many only realize their business is on this list after seeking a new credit card processor. The MATCH list was the first place the new processor went when considering this new high risk merchant account. Presence on the MATCH list is the quick and easy way the new processor finds rationale to turn a business down—AFTER collecting the application fees. If you’ve been placed on the MATCH list, the only way of removing your name is by contacting the processor or bank that put you there. Only that entity has the legal authority to remove you. Disputing the designation with the bank or merchant processor may require a lawyer’s help, and some lawyers specialize in this niche. Legal expenses can be worth it considering the MATCH listing remains active for five years. Understanding why your processor placed you on the MATCH list will prevent this hassle from happening again. Generally, the acquiring bank or processor finds out that while you were with your previous processor, you committed one or more “disqualifying acts” that exceeded the level of risk they contracted to undertake. Typically, your contract listed these acts and informed you that committing them qualified as a breach of contract and justification to end the relationship. Disqualifying acts include:
On the other hand, keep in mind, too, that banks and card processors SOMETIMES MAKE MISTAKES. If you feel your MATCH listing is an error, by all means fight it. Beware “Guaranteed Acceptance” Offers for Terminated Merchants In an effort to bring in application fees, some shady businesses imply or even claim that their high risk merchant account processors accept all terminated merchants. Merchants apply and wait a few weeks or even a month, only to learn that they didn’t qualify after all. First Financial’s carefully screened and selected processors specialize in terminated merchants in high risk industries. These processors are aware from the beginning that the merchant is on the MATCH list. They strive to make the relationship work. Further, A+ rated First Financial merchants get:
The ability to accept credit cards can make or break many businesses. Get your business
How to payday loans work? Learn everything you need to know about the precautions and benefits with our guide to understanding payday loans.
Payday loans can be a real life-saver. Used wisely they are your knight in shining armor. They’re there to rescue you from financial ruin when all else has failed.
How do payday loans work? Find out how you could get yourself out of an impossible situation with a quick injection of much-needed cash.
Many people have moments in their lives when they’re short of cash. You may well have managed your finances well. But sometimes something unexpected comes up and your budget can be stretched to a breaking point.
Let’s say a heating system breaks down unexpectedly. It could be very cold, and there may be a few more weeks to go until your next paycheck. If you’re already stretched, there could just be no money left to pay for the repairs.
It could be that you don’t have time to apply for a bank overdraft. You may not even be confident that your application will be successful. Your credit cards may also be maxed out.
It’s in these kinds of circumstances that a payday loan could be a solution. They’re a quick way to get the funds you need. They’re a stop-gap to enable you to keep your finances on track.
You’ll then repay the loan by the end of the month when you get paid. It’s a potentially life-saving choice for those who have poor credit or no credit history at all.
It’s often possible to get the cash you want on the same day if you can get an online application submitted early in the morning. You’ll need to be sure that you fill in any forms accurately.
With these kinds of loans, lenders may keep a check from the borrower until their next payday. That would typically be when the loan and any finance charges would need to be paid back.
There are also lenders who offer longer-term installment loans. They’d require authorization to electronically withdraw multiple payments from your bank account. That would typically be on each pay date.
Payday loans are usually for amounts that range from one hundred to one thousand dollars. The maximum will depend on what is permitted in any given state as well as your monthly income. A normal loan term would be around two weeks.
The downside of payday loans is that the interest rates tend to be high. There could also be arrangement fees on top of this. Rates can be even higher in states which do not cap the maximum cost of the loan.
It’s important not to let a payday loan become a ‘debt trap.’ That can happen if you can’t afford the loan and the fees. You might end up repeatedly paying even more fees to delay having to pay back the loan. The debt can then spiral out of control.
Lenders will need your personal details. They will want to know how they can contact you. That usually means that you will need a phone that accepts calls and texts.
Lenders will also want information about your employment status and financial income. They may also want to see bank statements from the past few months. This is so that they can see evidence of the regularity and size of your paycheck.
Before you apply for a payday loan, gather together all this information. If you don’t do this, then you might slow down the whole process.
Lenders often will not carry out a full credit check or ask too many questions when deciding if a borrower can afford to repay a loan. Loans are usually granted based on the lender’s power to collect, rather than on the borrower’s capacity to repay.
If you’ve just begun a college course, then you may find that you don’t have a credit history. Some lenders may still allow you to borrow in these circumstances. This will typically mean that the cash must be spent on books or college fees.
If your credit score is poor, you might still be able to get a payday loan. You must not be in a state of bankruptcy and you will require an active bank account. Lenders generally only let you borrow up to a smaller percentage of your income.
You should consider taking out a payday loan only in a time of real need. It shouldn’t be your first or ideal option. To an extent, it needs to be considered as a last resort.
That’s because there are real consequences if you fail to repay the loan. There will be a negative impact on your credit score. This will be a red flag for any future lenders.
Payday loans are not the right way to pay for luxuries you could do without. They’re there for necessities rather than something that you want.
You may want to go on a luxury vacation or buy a new and expensive computer. A payday loan would not be the most appropriate way to make the purchase.
It’s very important to read all the small print when taking out a payday loan. Check thoroughly so that you understand what the fees and charges are. You need to be aware of what you are getting into with payday loan.
The best advice is only to borrow the exact amount you’re going to need. It might be tempting to add on a little extra for the treat you think you deserve. This is never a good idea because of the fees you’re likely to have to pay.
Remember that the more you borrow, the more it will cost you to pay the loan back. That’s because you’ll be paying more interest and probably more in fees too.
How do payday loans work? They can be the lifeline you’re looking for when you have an unexpected expense and need a quick solution. You should always use them responsibly and with care.
Find out more about payday loans here and how online banks keep them safe and secure.
Whether faced with an emergency or you need to borrow, discover the benefits of a credit product that suits your needs and great reasons for a personal loan.
We live in one of the strongest economies in the world. Yet, despite that strength, wages haven’t kept up and about 40% of Americans struggle to make ends meet.
Fortunately, there are financial tools that people can use to help them meet their monthly obligations or dig out of debt. Personal loans have easily passed credit cards as a preferred form of debt.
What are 5 outstanding reasons to take out a personal loan?
Keep reading to find out.
Personal loans have moved past credit cards to become the fastest growing type of debt. To understand why let’s look at what personal loans are.
Personal loans are loans that you can take out for any reason. When you take out an auto loan or a home loan, it’s for those specific purposes. You borrow a certain amount of money at an interest rate determined by your lender and you make monthly installment payments for the term of the loan.
The terms of the loan can be anywhere from 6-60 months, depending on the amount you borrow. The great thing about personal loans is that they are available to people with good credit and bad credit.
Personal loans offer a lot more flexibility and stability than other forms of debt because you can take them out for a number of reasons, and you know what the monthly payments will be every month.
Would you like to improve your financial situation? In that case, a personal loan may be a smart move for you. Let’s look at some of the more common reasons for a personal loan.
The most common reason why so many people turn to personal loans is to consolidate credit card debt. The average person has about three credit cards, which means three separate debt payments.
Depending on your interest rate, you can be paying much more in interest over the long haul than what you actually paid for.
What a personal loan can do for you is you can pay off those credit cards completely and just have one monthly payment. The monthly payment is likely to be lower than what you’re paying out every month.
The interest rate is likely to be lower than credit card debt, too. That means that you’re saving on your monthly payments and paying less in interest.
Starting a new business is an exciting opportunity that does require some start-up capital. Most small businesses cost between $3,000 and $5,000 to start up.
That doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you are in debt or you are having trouble making ends meet, a personal loan can be a lifeline.
You can avoid the trouble of having to present a formal business plan when trying to get a business loan by getting a personal loan.
A personal loan won’t have the same strict requirements as a business loan, and you have the flexibility to invest the borrowed money as you see fit.
One of the reasons why people take out personal loans is because they want to take on a major home renovation project. A remodel could cost anywhere from $18,000 to $36,000 depending on the size and scope of the project.
Not many people have that kind of cash lying around, so they’ll turn to personal loans to finance the project.
It’s a smart move because these projects can add a lot of value to the home, which will increase the sale price. You’ll often see people renovate when they’re getting ready to sell, knowing that they’re going to see a return on those funds.
Car repairs, a medical emergency, home repairs, pet emergencies can all take a bite out of your finances. If you’re having a hard time making ends meet as it is, how will you be able to come up with the funds to these possibilities?
That’s where a personal loan can help you. One of the reasons why people turn to personal loans for emergency expenses is because they will be able to pay it back in monthly installments.
Your credit score determines so much in life. Your ability to get a home, an apartment, a job, or any other forms of credit all hinge on those three numbers that make up your credit score.
Do you have to start building up a credit history or rebuild your credit?
Taking out a small personal loan will help you do that. With a small personal loan that’s paid back on time and in full, you’re showing creditors that you’re responsible with debt.
That will also help you increase your credit score.
There are many reasons for a personal loan. When you do take out a personal loan, you want to make sure that you can either save money or make money.
Starting a business, consolidate debt, or start a home project that will pay off down the road are great reasons for a personal loan. The great thing about a personal loan is that you can take them out for any reason, even finance a vacation or a wedding.
Would you like to find out more about getting a personal loan for your financial situation? Find out more about First Financial’s personal loan programs here.
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