Business

Fraudsters target SBA/CARES Act borrowers

May 14. It’s easy to fall prey to scammers when business is down. But they’re out there, says Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

With small business owners impacted by COVID-19 it’s a good idea to remain vigilant in around personal and business information, and be on the lookout for emails related to economic relief programs.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), is the largest financial assistance bill to date, and includes provisions to help small businesses. Look out for fraud, and phishing, as scammers are targeting small business owners.

The SBA does not initiate contact on either 7a or disaster loans or grants. If you are proactively contacted by someone claiming to be from the SBA, suspect fraud.

Also watch out for:

• If you are contacted by someone promising to get approval of an SBA loan, but requires any payment up front or offers a high interest bridge loan in the interim, suspect fraud.

• The SBA limits the fees a broker can charge a borrower to 3% for loans $50,000 or less and 2% for loans $50,000 to $1,000,000 with an additional 1⁄4% on amounts over $1,000,000. Any attempt to charge more than these fees is inappropriate.

• Look out for phishing attacks/scams utilizing the SBA logo. These may be attempts to obtain your personally identifiable information (PII), to obtain personal banking access, or to install ransomware/malware on your computer.

• If you are in the process of applying for an SBA loan and receive email correspondence asking for PII, ensure that the referenced application number is consistent with the actual application number.

• Any email communication from SBA will come from accounts ending with sba.gov.

• The presence of an SBA logo on a webpage does not guarantee the information is accurate or endorsed by SBA. Please cross-reference any information you receive with information available at www.sba.gov.

Help provided

If you have a question about getting an SBA disaster loan, call 800-659-2955 or send an email
to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. If you have questions about other SBA lending products, call SBA’s Answer Desk at 800-827-5722

You can also report the fraud by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.

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