PITTSBURGH — Mom-and-pop shops all over are struggling to keep their doors open. With owners desperate for a financial life jacket, criminals are taking advantage of the situation.
“Whether it’s this situation or others, they’re so smart and they know how to get around computers and stuff. Put that to good use,” said Amy Rosenfield with mon Aimee Chocolat.
Rosenfield said she got a loan to help the business through the pandemic, but she kept getting follow-up messages. The Federal Trade Commission said it is a scam.
It starts with an email, claiming to be from the “Small Business Administration Office of Disaster Assistance,” that says you’re eligible for a loan.
According to a warning from the FTC, the email claims you’re eligible for a loan of up to $250,000 and asks for personal information, such as your birth date and Social Security number.
It’s important to remember that government entities won’t just email or call you out of the blue to offer a loan or ask for personal information.
To protect yourself, check your credit report. The FTC said you don’t want to find out someone has taken out a loan in your name when you’re actually applying for a loan yourself.
Other reminders include not clicking unsolicited links in emails received about loan applications, and checking out lenders before sharing personal information.
For the real deal, small businesses should go through the Paycheck Protection Program to apply for loans. The deadline is March 31, or whenever the money runs out.
Small business owners looking for COVID-19 relief programs should always start at the official site of the Small Business Administration or reach out directly to their trusted financial institution.
For more information about “Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources,” CLICK HERE.
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