Information on COVID-19 Unemployment and SBA Loan FraudThe COVID-19 pandemic has provided new avenues for financial fraud. In recent months, financial institutions have been advised of various scams where imposters file falsified claims for unemployment or claim they are with the Small Business Administration (SBA). Below is more information about the scams, what to look for, and how to protect yourself.
SBA Loan FraudAccording to the SBA’s Beware of Scams and Fraud Schemes publication, predatory companies may be misleading consumers claiming that they are affiliated with the SBA or about their role in helping businesses get SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans or Economic Injury Disaster (EID) Loans.
Like traditional phishing, the scammers ask for sensitive information such as account and Social Security numbers, and in some cases money upfront, under a guise to quickly process the loan application. As a result, small businesses that apply for the loans through these companies may be left empty-handed.
For more information regarding SBA PPP loans and its program application process, or SBA EID loans and its program application process, please refer to the SBA website. Only eligible SBA lenders can provide PPP loans, and other loans may be available through SBA directly. To find an eligible SBA lender in your area, use this SBA tool.
Unemployment Application FraudImposters are also filing claims for unemployment benefits, using names and personal information of people who have not filed claims. People learn about the fraud when they receive a notice from their state unemployment office or employer about their supposed application for benefits.
If this happens to you, or if you receive unemployment benefits you did not apply for, it means someone may be misusing your personal information, which may include your Social Security number and date of birth.
To protect your finances and credit, report the fraud to your employer and state unemployment benefits agency. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to report the fraud to the FTC and get help with important recovery steps.
Here are some tips that can help you avoid scammers:
- Remember, government agencies will not call, text, email or otherwise contact you to ask you to pay a fee or confirm personal information prior to receiving SBA PPP loans or unemployment benefits
- Do not give out your credit union account number, card number, PayPal, or other account information in response to a call, email or text even if the caller or writer claims it is necessary for receipt of your check or that by doing so you can receive your payment faster
- Do not click on links in texts or emails relating to SBA PPP loans, SBA EID loans, or unemployment benefits, as this may allow scammers to place tracers on your electronic devices and gain access to your personal information for later use
- Do not engage with scammers or thieves, simply hang up or delete texts/emails. If your cell phone has the ability, mark the call as spam and block the number
- Contact the North Carolina Department of Justice for more information on protecting yourself from unemployment fraud
Additionally, if you have information regarding an attempted fraud involving COVID-19, please report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at (866) 720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.