Tips for recognizing loan scams

Due to significant damage, many homeowners have had to apply for loans to repair what they've lost after Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast. However, some lenders have turned out to be scam artists, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

To help unsuspecting borrowers avoid unsavory businesses, the CFPB offers a few suggestions.

Among warning signs that a lender may not be what they claim to be are institutions that demand payment up front and ask for personal or financial information before the lending process can begin, according to the CFPB. Another potential red flag are companies that encourage a consumer to sign a document without allowing time to review it.

Consumers should perform their own research on any company before agreeing to anything and thoroughly read all documents before putting a pen to paper, the source advises. Borrowers should also not give out personal data, particularly their Social Security number.

Should a consumer's financial information fall into the wrong hands, their credit may be adversely affected by fraudsters running up charges. A credit repair company be able to help consumers fix problems to their credit reports resulting from identity theft.