The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been one of the most important pieces of legislation signed into effect since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The unsecured loans through the Small Business Association (SBA) have enabled our favorite retail shops, restaurants and small businesses to stay afloat, even as the coronavirus devastates sectors of the economy.
Not surprisingly, scammers have been using the PPP for their own purposes, mainly to con struggling business owners out of money. In these scams, they’ll pose as SBA representatives or legitimate lenders to ask for personal information from the borrower. They may also send bogus emails appearing to be from the SBA to lead the victim into downloading malware.
Scammers are getting smarter all the time, but so are we! Here’s how to avoid PPP scams:
Know how PPP loans are processed
Ready to apply for a PPP loan? Fill it out the SBA PPP loan application, and submit it to an SBA-approved lender. You’ll also need to provide some documents, such as tax returns for 2019, verifiable payroll expense documents, your most recent mortgage or rent statement, etc.
If you’re applying for a Second Draw PPP Loan, you will also need documentation that shows how you have used, or plan to use, your original PPP funds.
After you’ve submitted your application, just sit back and wait for approval.
How can I protect my business from PPP fraud?
- Be wary of any individuals demanding immediate payment or asking that you make immediate contact to be eligible for a PPP loan. These are likely scammers.
- Only use a lender that is accredited by the SBA. You can find all SBA-approved lenders here.
- Look for the .gov at the end of each email or website allegedly from the SBA or another government entity.
- Report any suspected scams to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Don’t let those crooks walk free!
- Pay for a program that promises to process or expedite a PPP loan request if the organization behind the program is not accredited by the SBA.
- Share any personal information with an unverified caller or email contact. If it’s personal info, make sure to keep it that way!
- Click on links or download files from an unfamiliar email address.
Freedom has made the Paycheck Protection Program available to its current members. Applicants must have established a business or personal membership with Freedom on or before December 27, 2020. Visit freedomfcu.org/business/ppp/ for more details.
Your Turn: Are you a small business owner who has applied for a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program? Tell us about it on Facebook, LinkedIn,Twitter, or Instagram @FreedomFedCU.