Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, many small- and medium-sized businesses have been forced to close their doors indefinitely until an undetermined date in the future when they might be able to reopen. For some other businesses, this necessary closure will continue for months even after they are allowed to reopen by the relaxing of municipal rules because of an abundance of formerly employees citizens that have lost their jobs as a result of this pandemic. These strapped and now unemployed folks do not have access to discretionary income to spend with these small- and medium-sized businesses. In an attempt to shield the economy from further failure, the Congress of the United States passed and the President signed a significant stimulus package that provides companies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with forgivable loans to continue to pay wages to their workers and thereby help to boost the economy. This recovery package is called the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).
All of the money that has been allocated for the first round of the PPP stimulus funds has already been awarded to the small number of lucky recipients. But the government knew that small businesses would need more help, so the federal government is working to approve the second round of funding for the PPP. Unfortunately, like all good things, criminals are taking advantage of the stimulus package efforts provided by the Small Business Administration for their own illicit financial gain. Criminals are coming up with ways to have small business owners apply for the wrong program under the guise of the PPP loans.
The FTC reports that thousands of business owners are complaining that their firm is being deceived to apply for the PPP loans from lenders that are not permitted to provide this stimulus money. Only lenders approved by the Small Business Administration are permitted to process and fund these PPP loans. The SBA would never send you an email inviting you to apply for the PPP loan, so if you receive any email that looks like that, don’t open it – it’s probably fake and is a phishing attempt to defraud you.
Watch out for companies that fraudulently promise to speed up or enhance the would-be borrower’s ability to receive PPP loan money. If you’re considering using an online provider or lender, stick with one that you’ve learned about and trust. If you receive calls or e-mails from lenders out of the blue, be alert for possible fraud.
The Government-funded stimulus package is recommended not only to protect your company but also to protect your employees’ livelihoods. Keep in mind that the second round of PPP funding is coming, but you should only choose to work with a trustworthy lender and not one of those one-off companies that you’ve never heard of before.
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