NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The wait is over for Pat Golab, who for the last year has worked with us to clear her name of an SBA loan approved in her name.
The letter states that, "after a thorough review of the loan record and the information you have provided, we have confirmed that you did not apply for this loan nor receive any benefit from this fraudulent loan."
Thieves used her identity to secure a $45,000 SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Not only did Golab not apply, but she doesn’t have a business of her own.
When we first met, we weren’t sure where this would take us. Golab had never dealt with the SBA before and frankly, neither had I. We knew she was the victim of identity theft. The signs were obvious from the beginning.
It began with a letter back in September 2020, when they notified Golab that her application was approved. She called the SBA several times, who later directed her to the Office of the Inspector General where she could claim identity theft.
“It was so time-consuming and stressful,” Golab said.
We called and left several messages. When we did get a reply, we were told to be patient with the process. Meanwhile, the loan was accruing interest, and soon the only correspondence Golab had with the SBA were the bills that arrived every month.
In one phone call with an SBA official, they told us that Golab was not expected to pay as they continued their investigation. However, that didn’t mean the bills would stop or that the loan would disappear from her credit. Golab was still on the hook for the money.
The situation reached its boiling point for Golab after she managed to get her hands on the application used by these thieves to secure the loan.
“They didn’t even answer half of the questions and simple things like, 'have you ever declared bankruptcy,'” Golab said.
Thieves used her name, address, and social security number to apply for the $45,000 loan but left virtually everything else blank.
Simple questions like ethnicity, gender, and veteran status went ignored. Golab says that 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.
This is the same application that demands every question answered, otherwise the application is returned. For reasons that aren’t yet clear, this application was approved anyway. We’ve since learned that the SBA expedited some applications to help pay businesses quicker in the pandemic.
With little vetting, it’s said that as much as $79 billion has been approved for fraudulent loans since March 2020.
“This could happen to anybody and I don’t know anything that I could have done to safeguard my information more,” Golab said.
We contacted Congressman Jim Cooper’s office, where they too made phone calls and sent emails to the SBA on Golab’s behalf. Between their help and Golab’s perseverance, the wait was finally over.
Golab says she will be more vigilant about her credit report to where she can spot red flags sooner. She also contacted the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), where they can place a free one-year fraud alert on your credit. You can visit identitytheft.gov for a complete guide through the process, as well as freezing your credit report and more.
To her credit, Golab kept every letter and email saved and prepared herself as best she could for the opportunity to make her case. She knows there are many others out there who may become victims themselves. For them, she has this message.
“I guess just persevere, even when it seems like you’re not getting anywhere. You can’t give up,” Golab said.