It never takes scammers long to show up, and they certainly have not disappointed us when it comes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The Federal Trade Commission is warning business owners of scammers attempting to trick you into applying for the wrong program.
The loans are designed to help businesses weather the financial hit caused by closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. While the program is currently out of money, the government is expected to approve an additional $500 billion this week.
Last week the FTC filed a case against Ponte Investments, LLC for claiming to offer fraudulent PPP loans. According to the complaint, Ponte Investments, LLC used websites (SBAloanprogram.com) promoting a fake SBA Loan Program. Scammers contacted potential victims by phone and email, claiming to be working with their banks and encouraging business owners to apply for their PPP loan, giving scammers access to their private financial information and leaving business owners empty handed.
The only legitimate site for PPP loans is sba.gov/coronavirus. The website offers information on available SBA loan and debt relief options. The FTC encourages business owners to avoid becoming the victim of scammers by:
- Not clicking on any email links in an email that looks like it is from the SBA or your bank. Go directly to their website.
- Remember the government won’t ask for payment up front and won’t ask for your Social Security, bank account or credit card number over the phone.
- Avoid companies that claim they can streamline and assist you in getting PPP loans.
- If applying through a bank online, use those you know.
- Don’t work with companies you’ve never heard of or who reach out to you.