BOISE, Idaho – Responding to an increase in the number of illegal or unauthorized consumer finance lending activities throughout Idaho appearing as legitimate offers for credit through Internet Web site and e-mail solicitations, Idaho Department of Finance Director Gavin Gee cautions Idaho residents to make sure offers for credit and the lenders who make them are properly licensed or authorized to conduct business in Idaho. “There have been an alarming number of companies offering consumer credit to Idaho residents through the Internet that have not obtained a license or are making false or fraudulent offers in order to obtain advance fees or personal information from consumers without providing any financing,” Gee said. One “disturbing” trend, he observed, is the increase in Internet offers for payday loans by unlicensed companies in Idaho. Gee said when consumers use an unlicensed payday lender, they may not have many of the protections available to them under the Idaho Credit Code. “They also run the risk of giving out vital personal information to a company that may not take care in keeping that information private or that may use the information for illicit purposes,” he said. “Responding to an offer made through e-mail or on the Internet has the potential to cause problems for consumers if they don’t do some checking into the validity of the offer,” he continued, adding that the Department of Finance has information on companies licensed in the state to conduct business, “and our staff is always willing to discuss finance offers in order to help consumers determine whether or not they are legitimate.” Gee advised consumers to be aware that “many lenders are restricted from conducting lending activities in the State of Idaho, whether by Internet or email, because they are not licensed. Without a license or valid exemption, a company cannot legally make consumer finance loans, such as payday loans.When consumers visit Internet Web sites offering financing, they should check to see that the company making the offer is one which is properly licensed.”