REFinBlog

Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

February 6, 2017

No-Credit-Check Loan Red Flags

By David Reiss

photo by Rutger van Waveren

OppLoan quoted me in 6 No Credit Check Loan Red Flags. It opens,

Welp. A kid just threw a baseball through your window and ran away before you could get his parents’ information. Now you need a loan to fix it. But what if your credit score isn’t exactly a home run? What are you going to do now?

It’s a fact of modern life: a “good” credit score (a FICO score of 680 or higher) can make little financial emergencies like these much more bearable. Unfortunately, just over half of American consumers have weak or bad credit. According to credit expert David Hosterman of Castle and Cooke Mortgage (@CastleandCooke), “Customers with bad credit can have trouble financing a home, renting a home, obtaining credit cards, car loans, student loans, and more.” And it’s not a problem that goes away overnight. Hosterman says rebuilding credit can “sometimes take years to complete.”

So how can people with bad credit get a loan if an urgent need arises? One option is a “no credit check” loan. And if these loans sound too good to be true, it’s because they often are. Many “no credit check” loans are nothing more than financial traps designed to suck away as much of your paycheck as possible. Keep an eye out for these red flags before you end up in a very bad situation.

1. They Don’t Care About Your Income

Lenders see a bad credit rating and take it as a sign that a potential borrower might never pay them back. That’s why a good “no credit check” lender will make sure that you have a source of income—so they know they’ll get their money back eventually.

But not every “no credit check” lender will check your income. So how do they know you’ll pay it back? They don’t. In fact, it’s worse than that. They’re expecting you not to. Because if you can’t pay your loan in time, you’ll be forced to roll it over and pay an additional fee to extend it. These predatory practices are often associated with payday lenders, because you could end up having to turn over your paycheck as soon as you get it to pay back the loan. That doesn’t leave much money for luxuries like rent, so you could find yourself having to take out another loan or pay to extend the first one. This can easily trap you in a dangerous cycle, having to continually rollover your loan without any hope of paying it off. You want to avoid this situation at all costs.

2. Short Payment Terms

Any good lender wants you to have a real shot at actually paying back your loan in full. A bad lender, on the other hand, wants you to be trapped into rolling over your loans so that you can give them money forever. They’ll require you to pay back the entire loan, with interest, after only a few weeks—and sometimes less!

Instead, find a lender that will offer you an installment loan. David Bakke (@YourFinances101), a finance expert at MoneyCrashers.com, says that one of the main benefits of installment loans is that they “usually come with fixed interest rates, meaning that you know what your monthly payment is going to be.” A good “no credit check” lender will be certain that you have a source of income and then work with you to create a repayment plan that you can handle.

3. They Talk About Interest Rates Instead of APR

APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate. According to David Reiss (@REFinBlog), a law professor and editor of REFinBlog.com, the APR number shows the total cost of a loan, including fees and interest. Reiss points out that APRs allow potential borrowers to make an “apples-to-apples” comparison between loans. It gives you a full and clear picture of how expensive a loan really is. In other words, it’s a number that many “no credit check” lenders would prefer you never see.

They’d rather show you a basic interest rate, even though federal law requires APRs be used in most cases. Not only can that hide all sorts of fees, but it forces you to do some pretty complex math if you want to actually know how much you’ll be expected to pay. Friends never make friends do complex math problems, so if a lender isn’t talking in terms of APR, they’re likely not your friend.

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