The U.S. Small Business Administration is warning borrowers of a scam targeting business owners who applied to an emergency coronavirus loan program.
The SBA said in an alert that “malicious actors” were impersonating federal officials the SBA Office of Disaster Assistance in order to collect personal information from small business owners. SBA officials said they believe small business owners who applied to the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program have been a primary target of the scam.
SBA borrowers, especially those who applied to the EIDL, should be on the lookout for phishing campaigns, officials said.
Officials noted that SBA only communicates via email from accounts ending in sba.gov, and nothing else. Borrowers are warned to be skeptical of any emails in which the SBA logo appears, and to check for the sba.gov address.
Scams have included attempts to collect personal information, access to banking accounts or to install ransomware or malware on the user’s computer or device.
The SBA said in the warning that it does not use third-party, non-government platforms to collect or “follow” small business owners online, and does not ask for fees or payment in order for small business owners to apply for financial assistance. Government employees do not charge for recovery assistance, officials noted.
The SBA recommended users be on the look out for coronavirus assistance-related emails containing the SBA logo, requesting personal information or containing attachments. Users should always double-check web addresses, confirm the application numbers in an email are correct, and avoid clicking on or opening any suspicious links or attachments.
If you suspect an email or other form of contact is an attempted scam, you can report it to the Office of the Inspector General online or by using the hotline 800-767-0385.
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Small business owners: Have a question or a story to share about how you’re coping through the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdown? We want to hear from you. Contact Back in Business reporter Julie McMahon: Email | Twitter | 315-412-1992