3 ON YOUR SIDE (3TV) – Chris Trelz will be the first to tell you that she leads a fairly simple life.
“You know, I don’t go out to party or eat out. I live on Social Security. I really have to pinch some pennies,” Trelz told 3 On Your Side.
Trelz says when she spends money, it’s usually on her 20-pound cat Storm. So when she got an SMS alert from credit reporting company called Experian about applying for a loan, it caught her attention.
“When I received the text of the statement, it indicated that the Small Business Administration had attempted to give me a credit report,” Trelz said.
Remember, Trelz is retired and has no interest in getting a loan. So she called the Small Business Administration and after waiting on the phone for three hours, she didn’t like what she heard.
Trelz learned that she had applied for a $250,000 loan that was being processed.
“They found a loan application in my name for a small business. They had my social security number and my date of birth. My address. They had everything about me,” Trelz said.
At this point, Trelz and the Small Business Administration realized she was a victim of identity theft.
“Yeah, I was almost in tears at that point,” Trelz said.
The Small Business Administration immediately terminated the $250,000 loan. Trelz says it only happened because she’s been proactive about her credit. In fact, she is registered with all three credit bureaus who alert her immediately if her credit changes.
“I mean, if that had happened, I don’t know what I would have done in all honesty,” she said.
To avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, you may want to consider freezing your credit with all three credit reporting agencies. This prevents any fraudulent loans from being processed. However, you will need to lift the freeze when you apply for funding.
At the very least, you might want to register with all three credit bureaus so they can alert you immediately to any changes in your credit.
Links to credit bureaus are below. There is also a link to get a free copy of your credit report.
Below is a statement to 3 On Your Side from the Small Business Administration.
The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) does not comment on individual borrowers, but evidence of waste, fraud and abuse with any of the SBA loan programs is not tolerated and this office encourages Suspicions of fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement of funds involving agency programs, operations, or personnel should be reported to the SBA Office of Inspector General’s Hotline at 800-767-0385.
These are tough times and people have bigger concerns, like a roof over their heads and food on their table.
Our Office of Inspector General has informed district offices that these types of crimes occur because criminals work to exploit people’s personal information.
We advise everyone to follow these steps to prevent identity theft:
Freeze your credit with the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion, check your credit report for any suspicious accounts or activity, and contact your local police department on their not urgent number and file a report. Also, file an identity theft report at voldidentite.gov
Gary Harper’s 3 On Your Side reports weeknights on 3TV News at 9am.
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