Beware COVID-19 scams

A new report shows there is $130 billion left in the Paycheck Protection Program but small business owners are at-risk following an unprecedented rise in online scams.

California ranks number two in the country with 54,922 approved loans totaling $20.8 billion in PPP aid to date.

The FBI’s PPP Fraud Working Group is investigating $42 million in fraud — the FTC has thus far received 36,000 reports of fraud costing victims $46.2 million; and Google reported it is blocking 18 million scam emails every single day.

SocialCatfish.com today released a report today on four Paycheck Protection Program Scams to Avoid based on information from the FTC, FBI and SBA during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Here are four PPP scams in progress and how to avoid them.

 

Phishing scam

The scammer will send you a fake email claiming to be from the SBA encouraging you to apply for a PPP loan. They will provide a link for you to click on and enter your personal information.  If you click on that link, it infects your device with malware and viruses that steal your personal information. Then they can pretend to be you, apply for loans, and steal your finances.

How to Avoid: The SBA will not email you out of the blue asking you to apply.  Do not click on any suspicious links.

 

Fake fees, fast money scam

Scammers contact you either by phone or email and claim that you need to pay a small fee to apply for a PPP Loan. They offer to “fast-track” your application for an additional fee.

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How to Avoid: You only get a PPP Loan through an approved site, and there is no fee or fast-track process. Anybody telling you otherwise is a fraud.

 

Robocall scam

Scammers are calling people pretending to be from the SBA and asking for confidential information.  If you already applied for a loan, they say they need it to verify your account.  They use that information to steal funds from your bank or commit fraud attributed to you.

How to Avoid: The SBA will never call you to verify your application or advertise their PPP Loan program. If you get a call similar to this, hang up the call, block the caller, and avoid giving them your information.

 

Fake lender scam

Several businesses are pretending to be lenders and send you a fake application. Once you fill out the form however, that business has your personal and confidential information that they can use to steal your hard-earned funds.

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How to Avoid: Verify the lender before applying for the loan. Only approved lenders by the SBA can administer PPP Loans.

If you encounter a PPP scam, contact local law enforcement or file a complaint with the FTC.