The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency released a consumer advisory Thursday warning of safety and soundness risks in refund-anticipation loans.

The regulator said they were often more costly to consumers than alternative loan products, and it cited banks' reliance on third-party tax preparers as a potential risk. Refund-anticipation loans are short-term credits offered by financial institution through tax preparation companies to customers expecting tax refunds.

"Although a refund-anticipation loan may offer easy access to funds on a short-term basis, a RAL can be costly, and paying for a loan may not be necessary, given how quickly you can get your refund from the IRS," the OCC advisory said. "These loans also may cost substantially more than other sources of credit.

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