A global pandemic approaching its second year. Record storms. And record relief.
Congress has responded to uncertain economic times with the CARES Act, providing a safety net for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. And there are also steps to take for those impacted by natural disasters.
These are unprecedented times, but the Office of the Inspector General has issued a warning about a new wave of fraudsters targeting small businesses.
“Fraudsters don’t discriminate when it comes to business size or segment,” said Jeff Taylor, head of commercial fraud forensics for Regions Bank. “Don’t be fooled into thinking your business can’t be a victim. Take advantage of every resource available to remain aware of the latest fraud tactics.”
Don’t be fooled into thinking your business can’t be a victim. Take advantage of every resource available to remain aware of the latest fraud tactics.
Jeff Taylor, head of commercial fraud forensics for Regions Bank
The warning from the Office of Inspector General centers on grant and loan fraud, as well as phishing attempts. Take these steps from federal experts to stay safe:
- SBA only communicates from email addresses ending in @sba.gov. If you are proactively contacted by someone claiming to be from the SBA, but not using an official SBA email address, suspect fraud.
- If you are contacted by someone promising to get approval of an SBA loan requiring payment up front or offering a high-interest bridge loan in the interim, suspect fraud.
- SBA limits the fees a broker can charge a borrower to 3% for loans $50,000 or less and 2% for loans $50,000 to $1,000,000 with an additional ¼% on amounts over $1,000,000. Any attempt to charge more than these fees is inappropriate.
- If you have a question about getting an SBA disaster loan, call 800-659-2955 or send an email to [email protected].
- If you have questions about other SBA lending products, call SBA’s Answer Desk at 800-827-5722 or send an email to [email protected].
- If you are in the process of applying for an SBA loan and receive email correspondence asking for personally identifiable information (PII), ensure that the referenced application number is consistent with the actual application number.
- Look out for phishing attacks/scams utilizing the SBA logo. These may be attempts to obtain your PII, to obtain personal banking access, or to install ransomware/malware on your computer.
- Any email communication from SBA will come from accounts ending with sba.gov.
- The presence of an SBA logo on a webpage does not guaranty the information is accurate or endorsed by SBA. Please cross-reference any information you receive with information available at sba.gov.
“Take steps to authenticate your loan process,” said Kenneth Valentine, Corporate Security senior director for Regions Bank. “Fraudsters are getting better at targeting you with well-done fraudulent products. Make use of the assistance being offered to facilitate both the authenticity of the process and the projected process outcomes.”
Report any suspected fraud to OIG’s Hotline at 800-767-0385 or online at, https://www.sba.gov/about-sba/oversight-advocacy/office-inspector-general/office-inspector-general-hotline.
The information presented is general in nature and should not be considered, legal, accounting or tax advice. Regions reminds its customers that they should be vigilant about fraud and security and that they are responsible for taking action to protect their computer systems. Fraud prevention requires a continuous review of your policies and practices, as the threat evolves daily. There is no guarantee that all fraudulent transactions will be prevented or that related financial losses will not occur. Visit regions.com/STOPFRAUD or speak with your Banker for further information on how you can help prevent fraud.