Update, Friday April 24th: The Small Business Administration has announced that it will begin accepting applications for the second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans on Monday, April 27 at 10:30am. We plan to begin accepting applications again at that time. Please watch this website and your email for additional information on Monday morning. Thank you for your business. We are all in this together.
On April 16th, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been fully exhausted and they are no longer accepting applications. While there is a possibility that Congress might enact additional funding, we are not accepting applications at this time as we cannot predict if Congress will initiate additional funding or if that the program and/or application may change significantly. When new funding becomes available, we will update our website and social media to alert any business customers who have not yet applied.
Our Risk Management Department has learned that fraudsters are becoming increasingly more sophisticated in their attempts at targeting businesses that may be struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the newer scams revolve around the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and CARES EIDL loans. Several local businesses have reported to their banks that they have received fraudulent emails, so it’s important that you are on the lookout for them.
The SBA will NOT contact borrowers, any loan correspondence will come directly from the bank. Businesses need to work directly with their loan officers.
There are some of the common schemes you should be aware of:
- Fake emails that appear to be from trusted entities such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the FBI, the US Postal service or other government agencies. These fake emails contain files with computer viruses or links that request your personal information so that the fraudsters can steal your identity. Anytime you receive an email with a link or file that you weren’t expecting, don’t click on it. Call the agency or check their website to ensure that the email is valid.
- Local businesses have reported receiving emails that appear to be coming from the Small Business Administration (SBA) stating they had documents that needed to be signed in order to receive their loan funds. The email appeared to be coming from a legitimate email address that is associated with SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan contact. The email had a couple of spelling mistakes, which is common with fraudulent emails.
- Websites selling fake vaccines, easy access to PPP and other pandemic stimulus program, protective equipment and fraudulent remedies for the COVID-19 virus. Currently, there are no vaccines or remedies available and personal protective equipment is largely unavailable. Do not give any company your credit card information for these items.
- Local businesses have reported seeing fraudulent ads on the web associated with applying for assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The links were malicious and downloaded virus files onto the computer. When some followed the link, she was asked for pages of in depth information in reference to their businesses. Some even received emails stating the loan was approved and that they click second link to finalize the process.
- Phishing, or the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. In this case, the phishing emails contain links portraying to have advice from medical organizations, or files claiming to contain enticing information about the Coronavirus. Reputable companies will not call or email you unexpectedly and ask for personal or financial information.
- Scams promising a significant share of a large sum of money, in return for a small up-front payment. Lately, these have been targeting government financial support packages. You may receive messages by email, phone, text message or even what appear to be legitimate ads on some of your favorite websites. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Solicitations seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations. The FTC offers great advice on how to ensure that you are only giving your hard earned money to the places that will benefit – and that you choose.
- Invitations that appear to be from communications platforms, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, by sending phishing emails with virus-infected files. Be very careful for fake names such as Zooom or Micosoft. Carefully check that the invitation is real, especially if you weren’t expecting it.
Please contact us if you are concerned that you may have fallen victim to a COVID-19 scam, so that we can assist you with protecting your accounts and identity.