Arthur Delaney reports that a number of bloggers have been pitching the virtues of www.paydayloansmania.com, an online provider of high-interest payday loans for people who are really, really, really desperate for cash.
At PaydayLoansMania.com, "Nobody will ask you for what purposes you need your payday loan, and your credit history will not be taken into account while granting you a credit," one blogger writes. "It can be a life saver that also provides the easiest advanced cash online," says another. "Pay Day loans in the month of May, it sounds almost poetic," waxes a third.
It sounds more like a paycheck for the blogger. The poet and his entourage are participating in a viral marketing scheme whereby they get paid to chat up a product. IZEA, the company behind payperpost.com, a lead innovator of the marketing method, calls the business model "sponsored conversations."
A couple things to keep in mind:
Be wary of blogs that seem a little too excited about relatively obscure products. There are exceptions, but for the most part, reputable companies don't engage in the kind of astoturfing that companies like IZEA promote.
Use reliable blogs (like WalletPOP!) for research on important decisions. As part of the Weblogs Inc. network, all of our bloggers adhere to a strict code of conduct governing journalistic integrity: We don't receive free products or services from the companies we write about, none of our writers are involved in the advertising aspect of the business, and we don't accept junkets from companies. None of us receive a dime from anyone other than AOL, our parent company, for our work on this site.
The Federal Trade Commission is considering new regulations to require bloggers to disclose conflicts of interest like the paydayloansmania.com one, but if there's one thing we've learned during the financial crisis, it should be this: You cannot rely on the government to protect you from scammers!
Finally: Never, ever, ever get a payday loan, and if you do get a payday loan, which you should never, ever do, don't go online to get one.