• Consumer warning: Clark Howard warns of scam targeting people applying for loans

    By: Nicole Carr

    Updated:

    GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has a warning about a scam targeting people applying for loans.

    A Gwinnett County woman told us she nearly fell for the loan phishing scam.

    “I was robbed in downtown Atlanta two years ago and suffered traumatic brain injury,” Maury James said.

    She decided to apply for a $5,000 loan to cover the co-pay and deductible for surgery to get a titanium plate to replace part of her missing skull. James started filling out applications online.

    “And I get this voicemail, like a few days later, that says you’ve been approved for this $5,000 loan,” James said. The voicemail said, 'Please call to verify your personal details to complete the transfer of $5,000 loan into your back account today. Once again, thank you for choosing U.S. Bank.'”

    James said she called the number and gave them her birth date. She said they told her to call a loan officer who went over the loan’s terms. James said because her credit recently took a hit, they asked her to pay $150 risk insurance in the form of an eBay gift certificate.

    “So, I did that which I thought was kind of strange but then I thought, 'Well, it’s an eBay gift card, it’s not like they’re getting cash out of my bank account,'” James said.

    James bought the gift cards and gave them the pin. But they wanted more money.

    “Well, there’s one thing left that we have to do and that is a closing costs fee, and it’ll be $689,” James said they told her.


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    James got suspicious and called U.S. Bank’s 800 line. She said U.S. Bank told her they had no record of a loan or even talking to her.

    “They say they’re getting dozens of these, for $5,000, specifically,” James said a bank manager told her.

    James’ story doesn’t surprise Channel 2 Consumer Adviser Clark Howard.

    “Consumer debt is at an all-time high in the country and advance fee loan scams are roaring back,” Howard said.

    Howard says there are two main ways to protect your money.

    “You never, ever pay money in advance against a loan you’re going to be receiving unless you want to be poorer for it,” he said.

    “You should never give your personal information out on the phone to someone who has called you,” Howard said. That includes your Social Security number, bank account information or birthdate.

    James filed a report with U.S. Bank’s fraud division. James said she’s learned an important lesson.

    “If something is too good to be true, like my mom always said, it’s not true,” James said.

    James is working with U.S. Bank to get reimbursed the $150 she spent on the gift cards.

    U.S. Bank sent us this statement: “We take fraud complaints seriously and remind consumers to be vigilant in protecting their personal information. U.S. Bank will never call you and ask you for your account numbers, Personal Identification Numbers (PINS), or any confidential information. Do not provide any confidential information over the phone unless you initiated the phone call. Hang up and call U.S. Bank at 877.595.6256 if you suspect fraud. Call 800-US-BANKS (800.872.2657) for all other customer service concerns. Additional tips and resources are available online at www.usbank.com/security.”

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