We are seeing a literal deluge of financial scams surrounding the new CARES act, and all other Coronavirus related matters. Using the current health and financial news as a backdrop, criminals are pumping out scam emails, phone calls and text messages at a rapid clip. We know that many of our clients are in the process of applying for loans right now, so it’s vitally important to be careful before you click.
Here are the key general rules to remember:
- Do not click on anything in an email you didn’t ask for
- If you weren’t expecting it, don’t click on it
- Do not give out any information about yourself over the phone, web or email without confirming the legitimacy of it first (by calling the institution or person on a known, good number and asking)
- It can wait. We are all in panic mode right now, worrying about our health and finances. But, taking an extra minute or two to confirm the legitimacy of an email, phone call or text can save you from a world of hurt
More specifically, you can expect to see many, many SBA(Small Business Administration) and CARES Act related phishing emails in the coming weeks. This crisis is a perfect opportunity for cyber-criminals to prey on our fear and trick us into giving out our private information. Here is what the SBA says:
- The SBA does not contact individual businesses on either 7(a) loans or disaster loans or grants. If anyone contacts you claiming to be the SBA, suspect fraud. Don’t share any personal or business information with them.
- If you are contacted by anyone promising you an SBA loan approval, but requires payment up front or offers a high-interest bridge loan in the interim, suspect fraud. The SBA does not guarantee approval before an application is submitted and reviewed.
- Any attempt to charge a borrower fees in excess of 3% is likely fraud. The SBA limits fees a broker can charge to 3% for loans of $50,000 or less and 2% for loans of $50,000 to $1 million. Loans over $1 million will include an additional % or 2-%.
- If you are in the process of applying for an SBA loan and receive an email asking for Personally Identifiable Information (PII), make sure the referenced application number is consistent with the actual application number.
- Don’t assume that something with the SBA logo must be legit. These phishing attacks may be attempts to obtain your PII to gain access to your bank accounts or to install ransomware/malware on your computer.
- Make sure any email correspondence claiming to be from the SBA is actually from the SBA. Every email from the SBA will come from accounts ending in sba.gov. Even so, still confirm it first.
- The presence of the SBA logo on a webpage does not guarantee it is endorsed by the SBA. Verify and cross-reference any information you receive with information available at the SBA website.
This is a difficult time in so many ways already. It’s hard to ask even more of people. But, being careful, and keeping these things in mind is very important. You don’t want a bad situation to be made worse.
Stay skeptical and safe,
Your friends at Pearce, Bevill, Leesburg, Moore, P.C.