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Small business owners covid-19 scam circulating

02/04/2021

There is a new coronavirus-related scam making the rounds, but this time the crooks are targeting small businesses. It starts with an email that claims to come from the “Small Business Administration Office of Disaster Assistance.” It says you are eligible for a loan of up to $250,000 and asks for personal information like birth date and Social Security number.

Phishing attempts are not the only scam that business owners are reporting. There have been reports from people who have applied for loans through websites pretending to be part of the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, which has been extended to December 31, 2021. And other people report they have been contacted to repay loans they never took out. The likely culprits are Criminals who illegally applied for loans in their name.

Here are steps you can take to help protect yourself.

Check your credit report - The worst time to learn that someone has taken out a loan in your name is when you are applying for a loan yourself. So, check your credit report for any suspicious activity. In addition, the three major credit bureaus are offering free weekly online reports to consumers through April 2021. If you are not in the market for credit or a loan, freezing your credit offers an extra and free measure of protection.

Look for reliable sources of information - If you are searching for a loan do not click on a link in an unsolicited email and be careful with online search engine results. Scammers often bait their online traps with sound-alike names and URLs, phony endorsements, and professional-looking websites. For small business owners looking for COVID-relief programs, always start at www.sba.gov, the official site of the Small Business Administration. Or reach out to a trusted financial institution in your community.

Check out lenders before sharing personal information - Scammers who impersonate lenders have the perfect excuse to ask you for lots of personal information that can be used to steal your identity. Do not leave a trail of personal information exposed by filling out lots of applications online with lenders you do not know. Investigate lenders first and if you spot something amiss, stop and then file a report at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

 

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