Bill Maurer

Fill out the lender's loan application and provide all required information and documentation. You can do this online, but don't overlook going into a bank or credit union branch to apply in person, says Bill Maurer, director of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion [and Dean of the school of social sciences] at the University of California, Irvine. A banker can also help you find the right installment loan. "You can hunt around online and see what rates and terms are, but if something looks too good to be true, it probably is," Maurer says.

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