You may not know it, but if you don't have a bank account, you might have a huge target on your back. At least, you do if you're seeking fast cash or high-interest loans. There are many reputable businesses out there for people without bank accounts to do business with. But there are just as many who prey on the financially vulnerable. So, how do you avoid getting ripped off?
Let's start with payday loans. Many payday lenders are legitimate businesses. However, because of their high fees, they're sometimes looked down upon as taking advantage of those who are desperate. Consumer advocate and radio personality Clark Howard regularly rails against the payday lending industry, citing the fact that their fees are often equivalent to 300 percent to 700 percent interest rates. Most U.S. states have laws governing the fees and rates payday lenders can charge, but not all do. So, it's best to avoid having to pay these high rates if at all possible.
When it comes to auto loans, disreputable lenders could tell you that you qualify for an interest rate much higher than what your credit calls for. Car dealerships are allowed to mark up their interest rates because they're doing you a service by arranging the loan for you, but some go too far. There are a couple of things you can do to help prevent this from happening to you. First of all, try to deal with established car dealers and financial institutions whenever possible. Secondly, do a little research into your likely interest rate beforehand. You can do this by trying to prequalify for loans with a few other lenders. The figures you get should help you determine the general range your interest rate should fall in.
So if you're without a bank account, don't worry: You have options. Just make sure being the victim of a scam isn't one of them.