With nearly $ 1 trillion in US Small Business Administration CARES funding loaned and provided to struggling businesses across the United States, it’s no surprise that some are trying to capitalize on the bigger federal financial aid bill of history. And while many have attempted to defraud the government, many others seek to take advantage of small business owners. Since June 26, 2020, the ASB reported 692 complaints alleging potential fraud or scams related to the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Disaster Loan, including credit checks for people who had never applied for a loan or grant for economic harm – a frightening statistic that underscores the scale of the risks faced by unsuspecting small businesses.

So what should small businesses watch out for, and what should you do if you think you have been scammed?

Most crooks attempt to contact small business owners through email “phishing” attacks. Under the guise of the US SBA, these emails request personally identifiable information, request payment of advanced fees unrelated to the real SBA program, or attempt to install malware disguised as email attachments. These “phishing expeditions” have become more advanced in recent months, as crooks learn more about SBA’s lending programs and procedures and target vulnerable populations.

“Fraudsters prey on those in vulnerable positions, and this is a critical time for small businesses in our country,” said Kevin Kupperbusch, special agent in the SBA’s office of the inspector general. “SBA OIG and its law enforcement partners are actively working together to eliminate fraud in SBA programs and bring those responsible to justice. The public is encouraged to educate themselves about potential fraud schemes and scams in order to guard against victimization. “

According to the SBA, always compare your actual loan application number with the number depicted in the email, as well as any information presented by the SBA with the information available on the SBA website. Any SBA email will always come from accounts ending in “sba.gov”. Some email providers allow you to verify sender’s address and access attachment metadata, making sure you know exactly what you received and from where. The presence of an SBA logo in an email or web page does not guarantee that the information is accurate or endorsed by the SBA.

The SBA does not establish contact on loans and grants 7a or disaster assistance. If you are contacted by someone who promises to get approval for an SBA loan that requires an upfront payment or a high interest bridging loan in the interim, you must suspect fraud.

If you have received an unsolicited call, letter, or email and suspect that you have been contacted fraudulently, you should never disclose private information, including social security numbers, credit card information, etc. credit or banking information. Then report the incident by contacting the Better Business Bureau or the Nevada Attorney General.

Fraud and scams aren’t new, but with increasingly complex technological systems and a population seeking help wherever they can get it, the pandemic has presented new opportunities for criminals. By keeping up to date with the latest trends and staying alert for any contact or suspicious activity, you can protect yourself and your property from those with less than altruistic motives.

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