Avoid COVID-19 Scams on Small Businesses

Avoid COVID-19 Scams on Small Businesses

It’s an unfortunate fact that fraud schemes, scams and phishing attacks increase during times of crisis. The recently announced economic stimulus programs offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as financial assistance provisions through the U.S. government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) are amplifying the trend. Fraudsters are already targeting small business owners, making economic hardships even harder.

Affinity is here to help its small business members navigate relief options offered through SBA. Click here to learn more about the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Industry Disaster Loans.

We’re also sharing up-to-date information from the Office of the Inspector General regarding grant fraud, loan fraud and phishing.

Suspect and report potential grant or loan fraud if you are:

  • Proactively contacted regarding 7a or disaster loans. The SBA does not initiate contact about either of these loans.
  • Asked to provide up-front payment to guarantee or expedite loan approval or you’re offered a high-interest bridge loan in the interim.
  • Contacted via social media about SBA-sponsored grants for small businesses. The SBA does not provide grants; it provides guarantees to lenders to encourage them to extend loans to small businesses.
  • Charged excess fees. SBA limits the fees a broker can charge to 3% for loans $50,000 or less and 2% for loans $50,000 to $1,000,000, with an additional ¼% on amounts over $1,000,000.

Be on the look-out for possible phishing scams or email fraud.

Here are a few things to know about SBA-related communications, logo use and web pages:

  • All email communications from SBA will come from a .gov email address.
  • The presence of an SBA logo on a webpage does not guarantee accurate information, nor is it necessarily endorsed by SBA. Cross reference any information you receive with information available at sba.gov.
  • Be wary of any emails or phone calls that ask you to share personally identifiable information (PII). If you are in the process of applying for an SBA loan and receive email correspondence asking for PII, ensure the referenced application number matches your actual application number.

Report suspected fraud or phishing scams.

Contact the Office of Inspector General’s hotline at 800-767-0385 or online.

Ask for help.