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Financial Planning for August, 2009

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Need Money Fast? - Don't Fall for a Scam

The past 24 months have been tough for homeowners. Between the resetting of adjustable rate mortgages and a sour economy that's cost millions of jobs, borrowers' needs for cash have multiplied. It's only natural that some consumers are almost begging to stay afloat. It also follows that consumers' needs are fueling the growth of unscrupulous and predatory lenders.

How do you recognize whether a potential loan offer is fraudulent? Everyone knows the old adage that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When it comes to unsolicited loan offers, even if the offer sounds legitimate, it probably isn't. Consumer demand is high right now and lenders are turning away business all the time. Why would a reputable lender with more than enough business solicit customers using mass emails? They won't because 1) there is too much risk of loss in lending to unknown borrowers and 2) the tightening of credit has come with significant new governmental requirements. Beware of unsolicited loan offers.

If you speak to a lender and are told that you must first submit a processing fee, run. Legitimate lenders will not do this - in fact, it is illegal to collect loan fees up front. If there are fees associated with your loan (and generally there are), they will be collected at closing. In one instance, an individual needing a loan contacted a lender and was told that because of his credit rating, he would need to make the first three payments in advance. After doing so, he waited for approval and was then told that the underwriter required an additional two payments in advance. He never got the loan and was out his much-needed cash. Never pay insurance, application, processing, an initial month's payment or similar fees up front.

Is your credit poor? Have you been turned down for a loan because of a low credit score? No matter what your score, you can get a loan - or at least that's what some con artists will tell you. Don't believe it. If you are told that you can get a loan regardless of your credit status, go elsewhere. The simple fact is that reputable lenders have been hit hard by making loans to people with less than acceptable credit scores. Anyone you really want to do business with will rely heavily on that rating.

So how do you shore up your finances if cash is getting tight? First and foremost, sit down with your local bank. Speak frankly about your needs and discuss possible options with them. While no bank is likely to lend to someone who is not credit worthy, if you are borderline, the bank's familiarity with you and your family might assist you in getting a loan. If not, you can talk with other lending institutions. Be prepared to hear a "no" from them if your regular bank turns you down, but don't give up hope.

Times are tough and unfortunately there are some greedy people out there who are ready to take whatever money you have. If you are in a tight spot and considering a less than attractive loan offer, give us a call. Let's talk about whether your potential lender will actually help you or only make things worse.

Have a terrific August!

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