First Southern State Bank warns local business owners to be cautious as they open their email or apply for credit online. According to reports to the Federal Trade Commission, businesses are experiencing fraud in regard to government sponsored loan programs.
“First Southern wants to help local businesses understand the facts when it comes to available loan programs,” said Jack Lovelady, President and CEO of First Southern State Bank. “With the second draw of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans at the top of every business owner’s mind, it’s easy to be victimized by fraudsters claiming to be from the SBA. “
Emails claiming to be from a “Loan Specialist” at the “Small Business Administration Office of Disaster Assistance,” are actually fraudulent messages attempting to gather your personal information for a “personal / business loan of up to $250,000”. While there actually is an office with that title, the SBA will not send unsolicited emails to you.
Fraud isn’t limited to email. It can also come by applying for loans online through websites who are falsely claiming an affiliation with the SBA, or through urgent telephone calls demanding repayment for loans that businesses never took out.
“Businesses expect to share information with their lender when applying for credit. By reaching out to a trusted financial institution in their community, they can have confidence in knowing that their information is safe,” said Lovelady. “It’s a best practice for business owners to protect their good name and credit by checking their credit reports regularly, obtaining their information from reliable sources like www.sba.gov, and by being selective in sharing personal information.”
Should you suspect fraud, please contact your financial institution immediately, and file a report with your local law enforcement agency and www.reportfraud.ftc.gov.