Harriman woman victim of loan scam

Investigations

HARRIMAN, Tenn (WATE) Scammers have drained the bank account of a disabled woman in Harriman, shortly after she applied for a loan.

59-year-old Carol Gatewood never thought she would be falling for this type of scam. However, personal loan scams are increasing as more of our lives go online.

There’s a lot of money the billion-dollar personal loan business, and even more money in stealing or scamming people’s banking information.

Social Security disability is Gatewood’s only means of income. She lives alone in a low income apartment complex, along with Precious, her comfort dog.

Gatewood is dependent on oxygen, and left a career in nursing after suffering several serious physical setbacks more than 20 years ago.

She wanted to consolidate some bills she owed, and getting a loan would allow her to make just one payment a month. Believing she found a local personal loan company, she applied online for a loan of $500 in early June.

She was granted the loan from a company called Commerce Financial, which sent her a check for more than she had requested.

“They told me they were going to do better than $500, and would give her a loan for $1,600. I thought it was amazing, I just live on Social Security you know,” said Gatewood.

After depositing the money into her account and giving out her personal banking information to the company during the application process, she learned that there’s no Commerce Financial in Harriman.

Five days later she found out that it was fraudulent, leaving her devastated, and with a bank account in the negative. Gatewood’s checking account is in the red because the loan company instructed her to buy money cards.

“And once i had bought the gift cards to call them there at the store after I purchased them. Then give them the numbers that were on the gift cards. When that happened, I knew right then, I had been gotten,” Gatewood explained.

To make matters worse, she’s now behind in her rent payments and recently received a warning to vacate if it’s not paid.

Tony Binkley, the President of the Better Business Bureau, explains, “Never give anyone access to your bank account, credit card information, or your pin. When you do that, they have access to everything you have.”

Here are some red flags to keep yourself from getting scammed:

  • It is illegal to make loan offers over the phone.
  • Any offer must be put in writing.
  • If the lender wants you to wire money or money cards, that’s a big cause for concern.
  • Never wire money to an individual, always ask for the lender’s physical address.
  • Legitimate lenders will ask questions about your credit history.
  • Lenders won’t loan you money or send a check beyond the amount you need.
  • Legitimate lenders must be registered with the state.

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