Hi guys, it should be no surprise that this time is being called the Golden Age for Cybercriminals. While the world holds its breath for news or updates of hope or tragedy, these guys are taking advantage and using this same news to scam businesses.
As you are probably aware, a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding came in last week to the tune of $310 billion. It offers the opportunity for small businesses with less than 500 employees to have obtain a forgivable loans from their local bank in exchange for keeping their employees on payroll for 8 weeks following funding. There’s more to it than that, but many businesses are desperate for any hope of financial assistance and with the backlog at banks and the SBA (who approves the funding) it’s no surprise that Cyber criminals are taking advantage.
Be on the lookout for grant fraud, loan fraud, and phishing. Old tricks, new twists. The following PPP scams have been reported:
- You may be contacted by someone who promises to get your company approved by the SBA for a PPP loan. However, they require an up-front payment or to take out a high interest bridge loan until your application is “approved” by the SBA. Fraud.
- The SBA limits the fee a broker can charge a borrower. It’s 3% for loans up to $50,000, 2% for loans from $50,000 to $1,000,000 and an additional ¼% on amounts over $1,000,000. Any attempt to charge more than these fees should make you suspicious.
- If you are in the process of applying for an SBA loan and receive email correspondence asking for additional PII (personally identifiable information), check that the referenced application number is consistent with the actual application number. A multitude of fake application websites have popped up that could be harvesting your information. there’s no way to really stop them, so you’ll have to be vigilant.
- Look out for phishing emails that try to gain trust by including the SBA’s logo. They are after your PII, access to your bank account, or to infect your computer with malware. Any email communication from SBA will come from an email address ending in sba.gov. The rest are fraudsters.
Remember, the presence of an SBA logo on a website does not guaranty the information is accurate or endorsed by SBA. Here is the SBA’s real contact information:
For questions regarding SBA disaster loans, call 800-659-2955 or send an email to [email protected].
If you have questions about other SBA lending products, call SBA’s Answer Desk at 800-827-5722 or send an email to [email protected].
These are uncertain times. Stay alert and stay safe out there.