May 15, 2020
Nealy R. Williams
Attorney, Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC
Cybercrime never sleeps—even during an international pandemic. A disturbing new trend preys on businesses seeking relief under The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Fraudsters are employing hoax text messages, scam robocalls, phishing and even vishing techniques to scam applicants in CARES Act programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Disaster Loans. Below are three practical tips to help your employees vet fraudulent communications regarding your CARES act application:
Suspect Fraud if You Are Proactively Contacted
The Small Business Administration (SBA) will not “make the first move” and inquire whether your business is interested in applying for a CARES Act grant or loan. Thus, if your business is ostensibly contacted by the SBA and offered a grant or loan, the communication is likely fraudulent.
Suspect Fraud if you receive Correspondence Guaranteeing Approval of your Application
Exercise caution if you receive correspondence guaranteeing approval of your business’ loan or grant request in terms at variance with those contained in the CARES Act. The Act expressly limits the interest a broker may charge a borrower relative to the amount of money borrowed. Thus, if you are contacted by someone promising your business approval, in exchange for upfront payment or if your business, while approval of the application is pending, obtains a high interest loan, the communication is likely fraudulent.
Review Correspondence concerning your business’ Loan Application with Suspicion
Following submission of your business’ application, the SBA may legitimately contact you. You employees should carefully review any such communication for information including:
• APPLICATION NUMBER: Your company received an application number from the SBA when it first submitted its application under the CARES Act. If the number in the subsequent correspondence is different than that which the SBA initially provided, exercise caution.
• SENDER EMAIL ACCOUNT: Legitimate email communication from the SBA are exclusively sent from accounts ending with sba.gov. If the send account ends in .com, or any other manner, suspect fraud.
• EMAIL CONTENT: The presence of an SBA logo on a webpage or email, alone, is not a guarantee that the information is accurate or endorsed by SBA. Instruct your employees to cross-reference any information received electronically with the information contained on the official SBA website, www.sba.gov, before acting.
Stoll Keenon Ogden understands that these are trying times for our clients and our country. Our firm operations have continued uninterrupted and our attorneys are equipped to serve as we always have – for over 120 years.
If you would like to discuss the Main Street New Loan Facility, the opportunities therein for your business, or other loan and business-assistance programs available during the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact SKO’s SBA Loan Team led by Jamie Brodsky (502-568-5473) and Brad Keeton (502-568-5439).
Please also be sure to check out the Stoll Keenon Ogden Coronavirus Resource webpage for additional articles and information related to the latest information on new laws and directives enacted by federal, state, and local governments in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.