Money & Policy

Pre-Qualified for a Loan or Credit Card Can Also Mean a Processing Fee

No legitimate credit card or loan is guaranteed

Don't pay for a promise. Legitimate lenders never guarantee a credit card or loan before you apply.

The Bait

You get the "good" news that you've been "pre-qualified" to get a low-interest loan or credit card or to repair your bad credit even though banks have turned you down. To take advantage of the offer, you have to ante up a processing fee of several hundred dollars.

The Catch

A legitimate "pre-qualified" offer means you've been selected to apply for a credit card or loan. You still have to complete an application, and you can still be turned down. If you paid a fee in advance for the promise of a loan or credit card, you've been hustled. You might get a list of lenders, but there's no loan, and the person you've paid has taken your money. It’s very unlikely you’ll be able to depend on that loan.

What You Can Do

Legitimate lenders never guarantee a card or loan before you apply. They may require that you pay application, appraisal or credit report fees, but these fees rarely are required before the lender is identified and the application is completed. In addition, you’re generally required to pay the fees to the lender, not to the broker or person who supposedly arranged the "guaranteed" loan.

Report Online Scams

If you believe you’ve responded to an online scam, file a complaint with:

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