NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WTVF) – A Tennessee woman calls for increased scrutiny of the US Small Business Administration’s loan program, saying it has made people an easy target for thieves.
Pat Golab has followed the trail left by those responsible for his identity theft in August. The last time she spoke with us about what had happened, she shared that she had been approved for the SBA Economic Disaster Loan (EIDL). Not only did Golab not apply, but she doesn’t have her own business.
In the months that followed, Golab filed three reports with the SBA and the attorney general’s office. She eventually managed to get her hands on a copy of the app and says what she found should put others on alert.
The thieves used his name, address and Social Security number to apply for the $ 45,000 loan, but left virtually everything else blank.
Simple issues like ethnicity, gender and veteran status were ignored. Golab says it should have been a red flag, but it only got worse from there.
“Things like, how long have you been in business? Nothing, ”Golab said.
Questions about business history and bankruptcies were left blank. The thieves claimed 12 employees were working, but also said they planned to keep none.
“The request should never have been approved,” Golab said.
So why has a program been designed to help companies retain their employees, paying out thousands of dollars to companies who are not considering retaining anyone? This is the question Golab has yet to answer.
“I checked the SBA website on how to complete the application and one of the first things it says is every question has to be answered. Otherwise the request will be returned and you will come back and start at the bottom. That’s not what they did at all, ”Golab said.
The loan in Golab’s name has been deferred, but she still receives letters from the SBA saying she needs her to make payments of $ 200 each month to cover the accrued interest.
We contacted the SBA again on Monday and they told us they could not discuss the individual claims in detail.
They released this statement:
“The SBA’s Office of the Inspector General and the agency’s federal partners are working diligently to resolve incidents of fraud related to economic disaster loans and P3s.
Additionally, the SBA does not comment on individual borrowers. Evidence of waste, fraud and abuse with any of the SBA loan programs is not tolerated and should be reported.
Douglas Schmidt is a professor of computer science at Vanderbilt University and says cybercriminals are expanding their operations across the country. This makes it even more difficult to catch them in the act, and almost impossible if they are outside the jurisdiction of local and state law enforcement.
With the speed with which federal officials have had to shell out money for unemployment programs and SBA loans, Schmidt says it makes sense that some claims like those filed on Golab’s behalf could slip through the cracks.
“It’s a growing problem. It’s a problem that is only solved by education, ”Schmidt said.
If they haven’t already tried, Schmidt says thieves will send phishing emails and / or calls, claiming to be one of those agencies you trust. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the trap.
Pay close attention to the email address or phone number. If you’re skeptical of who you’re talking to, try calling the agency back yourself to see if they made the call in the first place.
During the holiday season, thieves will also try to use the names of people close to you. They can tell you a story of a parent who is struggling to need money. The same advice applies again. Try to contact the parent yourself, to avoid sending money to someone you don’t know.
Thieves may also try to convince you that your Amazon package is delayed and they need more information to verify where to send it. Either end the call or don’t click the email and contact Amazon directly.