3 ON YOUR SIDE (3TV) - Chris Trelz will be the first one to tell you that she lives a pretty simple life.
"You know, I don't go out and party or eat out. I live on Social Security. I really have to pinch pennies," Trelz told 3 On Your Side.
Trelz says when she does spend money, it's usually for her 20-pound cat Storm. So, when she received a text alert from the credit reporting company called Experian about a loan application, it got her attention.
"When I received the text statement, it said the Small Business Administration had tried to pull a credit report on me," said Trelz.
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 was told she had applied for a $250,000 loan that was being processed.
"They found a loan application under my name for a small business. They had my Social Security number and date of birth. My address. They had everything about me," said Trelz.
At that moment, Trelz and the Small Business Administration realized that she was the victim of identity theft.
"Yeah, I was almost in tears at that point," said Trelz.
The Small Business Administration immediately shut down the $250,000 loan. Trelz says it only happened because she's proactive about her credit. In fact, she's registered with all three credit reporting agencies that immediately alert her if there's any kind of change to her credit.
"I mean, if this would have went through, I don't know what I would have done in all honesty," she said.
To prevent yourself from becoming an ID theft victim, you might want to consider freezing your credit with all three credit reporting agencies. Doing so prevents any fraudulent loans from being processed. However, you will have to lift the freeze when you actually apply for any kind of financing.
At the very least, you might want to register with all three credit bureaus so they can immediately alert you when there is a change to your credit.
Links to the credit bureaus are below. There is also a link to getting a free copy of your credit report.
Below is a statement to 3 On Your Side from the Small Business Administration.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) does not comment on individual borrowers, but evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse with any of SBA's loan programs is not tolerated and this office encourages that suspicions of fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement of federal funds involving the agency's programs, operations, or personnel be reported to SBA's Office of Inspector General's Hotline at 800-767-0385.
These are difficult times and people have greater things to worry about such as a roof over their heads and food on their table.
Our Office of the Inspector General has advised district offices that these types of crimes are occurring because criminals are working to exploit people's personal information.
We advise everyone to follow these step 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 non-emergency number and file a report. Also, file an identity theft report at identitytheft.gov