Points to Evaluate Online Lenders

Privacy

In the modern world of ecommerce, it is essential that all respectable businesses honor your right to privacy:

  • Check for a posted PRIVACY POLICY, prominently displayed on the homepage of your prospective lenders site. Read it. Does it make sense to you? Does it address how they will use your email address, your name, and your private information?
  • Do they ask for things that may seem unreasonable at this stage of the game? Be wary of requests for credit card numbers, social security numbers, and similar information that may not be appropriate early on, for example, when you are filling out the initial, short form. Naturally, your lender will need that information down the road, but certainly not right out of the gate, when initiating the first steps towards a relationship with you.
  • Is the lender a member of a posted, third party, privacy program? For example, TRUSTe is one such independent company that will designate a member site. You can look for their emblem, and similar third-party companies. This is not a requirement for securing a good privacy policy; however, it is worth noting.

Design

The storefront of the online world, is the website. Therefore, it is important that you examine the sites design, and evaluate it, much the same way that you evaluate an office or store as you walk in the front door. Let me give you a couple things to consider:

  • ┬áIs it a fast-loading site, or are you waiting forever?
  • Is it straightforward or elusive? Can you glean important, direct information from the homepage, or does the site appear to coax you in deeper?
  • Are you inundated with pop-ups, pop-unders, and other in-your-face ads, or does the site seem helpful?

Remember, how the lender presents themselves online, is a reflection of their business philosophy, and it tells you a lot about what kind of lender they may be, after you sign on the bottom line.

Popularity and Reputation

I’m sure you learned in high-school, that popularity and reputation aren’t everything. However, just like in the real world, it is important to gather information on these two key points, and use them as a gauge.

  • aBy typing your lenders URL into http://www.alexa.com, you will be able to ascertain how popular your lenders site is, because Alexa will tell you how much visitor traffic the site gets. This isn’t a science, and popularity isn’t everything. For example, an extremely popular website could treat you like a number, and a relatively new lender or smaller institution, might not be frequently visited, but still be a perfectly viable choice. So, review popularity alongside rock-solid common sense.
  • Say, why not check out your prospective lenders reputation, by going to the online Better Business Bureau, http://bbbonline.com and checking the Reliability Report? This report will provide you with corporate information (such as name, address, phone number), BBB membership information, whether or not the lender is a participant of the “BBB Online” program, along with a complaint history, and each complaints final resolution.
  • These aren’t the only methods for gauging popularity and reputation, of course. You can talk to people, go to chatrooms, conduct search-engine research, etc. Again, popularity and reputation aren’t everything, but keep them in mind while exploring lenders, both online and in the real world of course.