An investigation by Sky News has revealed that some Payday loan brokers have been involved in hacking popular websites in order to increase their rankings on Google and the number of visitors to their sites.
This increase in visitors has given brokers online traffic potentially worth millions of pounds.
“Payday loans” is a term which is searched by tens of thousands of people a month.
Google has a complex algorithm which bases a website’s history and credibility to try and ensure that customers are directed to the most relevant website.
According to Sky News, it is possible to trick Google’s listing system. They had found three Payday brokers who were using the credibility of another website not relevant to payday loans. The victims included a music business, a graduate website and the website for a church.
Companies may not always be aware that such a breach of security has taken place. It has been reported that over 10,000 websites which have been compromised by this method were found on one server alone.
In an interview to Sky News, Luke Blaxill director of the Gradfunding website explained they were dealing with the problem. He said:
“To get rid of this we are going to have to rewrite every bit of code on the website and transfer it to a new server.”
He went on to say that this intrusion had been detrimental to their own rankings and could potentially loose their online reputation which took years to build.
It was found that many of the payday loan sites which ranked highly in Google were not compliant. As well as the many sites which hacked other sites to boost their rankings, many did not display a consumer credit license which is a requirement set by the OFT for loan brokers and lead providers. Several websites didn’t display the APR of the loans provider, or provide and address where the company could be contacted.
Many legitimate payday lenders who use Google’s pay-per-click service have commented that they are aware of the issue.
Bev Budsworth from The Debt Advisor Ltd adds, “The Pay Day loan industry has been plagued with controversy with failing to carry out adequate affordability checks and encouraging customers to roll over the loans. Clearly some operators only have £ signs in the eyes and scant regard for operating in a fair and transparent way”.
If you are struggling with debt issues, resorting to pay day loans can lead to financial misery. Bev Budsworth adds “speak to properly regulated advisors who can give you the pros and cons of debt solutions. Look for the DEMSA and DRF badge which will tells you that the company is a member of a recognised trade body. More importantly make sure they are regulated by The Financial Conduct Authority to provide debt counselling”.
The Debt Advisor is a member of the DRF and is regulated by The Financial Conduct Authority no 60669.
You can contact us on our freephone 0800 085 1825 or 0161 868 2500 (if calling from a mobile).