Small Business Owners: Avoid New COVID Scams
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a new scam is circulating which targets small businesses. It begins with an email that claims to come from the “Small Business Administration Office of Disaster Assistance”. This scam tries to lure you in with the promise of eligibility for a loan of up to $250,000. You will be asked for personal information such as your social security number or your date of birth. The FTC continues to warn consumers about these government imposter scams, so if you get an email or phone call out of the blue claiming to be from a government agency, beware! If you are told that you are automatically eligible for a large loan, that should raise a bright red flag. Real lenders never do this. If you are asked to provide personal data, that is also a clue that the sender is trying to steal your personal information. So how can you protect yourself?
Here are a few tips:
1. Check your credit report. The FTC recommends the website www.annualcreditreport.com, an authorized source for free credit reports which consumers are guaranteed by law. The three major credit bureaus are also currently offering free credit reports on a weekly basis through April 2021. You can also freeze your credit if you are not in the market for credit or a loan as an additional level of protection.
2. Make sure your information is reliable. Be careful where you get your information. If you are a small business looking for COVID-relief programs the best place to start is the official site of the Small Business Administration: www.sba.gov or view the resources available on our website at summitstatebank.com/covid-19-assistance.php.
3. Investigate lenders before offering any personal information. It is always the best practice to thoroughly review the lender, as scammers sometimes use the application process as a perfect way to steal your identity. If something seems fishy, stop and immediate file a report with ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
4. Summit State Bank will never phone, text or email you to request private information such as your account number, social security number, card number, or password. Do not respond to requests for this type of information.
5. Private information exchanged electronically should ALWAYS be done through a secured platform. DO NOT include private information in an email. For more information about how to protect yourself from COVID related scams visit: www.ftc.gov.
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