Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: Dec 18, 2012

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There are several ways that prospective borrowers can find out if a potential lender is located within the United States.

Some instant loans are available from retail store locations. These companies maintain physical stores in cities that provide check cashing, lending, and even prepaid debit card services. Since these businesses are physical stores, borrowers should have little doubt that they come from the United Statesand that they are operating in accordance with city, state, and federal laws.

Instant loans offered online, however, are a whole different story.

Since virtually any person or organization can create a website, it is important for prospective customers to discern where their financer is located. This is even more important when one considers that certain states outright ban instant loans. Residents of these areas should use caution when borrowing instant loans since online lenders do not always obey the laws of individual states. It is a common occurrence for an online provider to lend an instant loan to a borrower in a state that bans the practice since most borrowers are unaware of their state laws.

In order to avoid borrowing money from a lender that is prohibited from lending money, prospective customers should find out where their lender is located by calling a listed number on a company’s website. Speaking with representatives of the lending company can help answer questions that prospective borrowers may have.

Unfortunately, since some lenders desire business before ethics, a representative of a lending company may not be completely forthcoming in whether or not their company is registered within the US.

In that case, prospective customers should check for the emblem of the Better Business Bureau on the lenders’ websites. The Better Business Bureau monitors the ethical practices of businesses, including instant loan lenders. It can attest to whether a business is located within the US.

Additionally, borrowers should ask their potential lender if they are a member of any trade associations in the lending industry. Trade associations for instant loan businesses, such as FiSCA and the CFSA, hold their members to certain guidelines and standards that help protect customers. Since trade associations police themselves they are less likely to tolerate unethical lenders within their ranks. Members of trade associations are also required to list their contact and registration information, which will show if they are based within the US or not.

If borrowers are unable to use these pathways to discovering if a lender is located within the United States, then they should try to find another company to borrow money from. In the event that a borrower obtains an instant loan from a lender outside of the US, they will have little recourse if the lending company does something unethical or illegal. Conversely, if a lending company located within the United States commits an illegal act, customers are able to use the legal system to seek justice. As a result, it is far better for borrowers to obtain money from a verified company within the United States than to do business with one that is potentially outside of the country.