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Email scams targeting businesses hit by COVID-19

Email scams are nothing new, but the COVID-19 pandemic has added considerable fuel to the fire that’s been burning in the underbelly of the internet for years.

From scams that attack your stimulus check to fake cures and protective gear, there are so many COVID-19-related scams circling that it can be hard to spot them all. Tap or click here to see the red flags to watch out for.

But now, scammers are turning their attention to new kinds of victims: small businesses impacted by the pandemic. They’re masquerading as government loan servicers and tricking people into handing over their personal data in exchange for payroll funds that never arrive. Here’s what you need to know about this scummy new bait-and-switch.

Paycheck Protection Plan recipients are the latest target for scammers and fraud

If you’ve received an email telling you that your small business may qualify for government-backed loans via the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), delete it right away. A new scam is in town, and it’s harming small business owners left and right across the country.

According to a bulletin posted by First Interstate Bank, PPP recipients are one of the groups being targeted by a new scam campaign that may steal your personal and financial information at one of the worst times imaginable.

Source: Scam email sample | First Interstate Bank

Both PPP recipients and non-applicants are being targeted, but the methods of attack are the same nonetheless. These emails take the form of a message from the government’s Small Business Association, which explains that you qualify for a loan and must apply or sign documents to get approved.

Unfortunately, these emails are nothing more than fakes, and signing the documents they contain may lead to devastating consequences like stolen identities, fraud and data breaches. Tap or click to see how scammers are impersonating banks with fake COVID-19 emails.

My small business does need help. How can I tell the scams from the real thing?

Fortunately, SBA has the answers you need. These scammers ignore a few key facts about how the PPP works, as well as how businesses sign up and qualify for a loan.

For starters, the SBA will never reach out to you regarding a loan or your qualifications. This is the same mistake made by scammers pretending to be the IRS. Tap or click to see the stimulus scams to keep an eye out for.

In addition, you go through financial institutions like First Interstate Bank to apply for your small business loan, not the SBA directly.

If you have fallen for a scam like this, your best option is to freeze your credit and contact your bank immediately. They can keep an eye on your account, as well as halt and inform you of any fraudulent activity. Tap or click here to see the benefits of freezing your credit.

If your business is in need of a loan, look through the SBA’s website and contact your bank to see if you qualify. Right now, loans are going quickly, as the pool of money appropriated by Congress is limited.

Ultimately, this scam features the same fatal flaw as the rest: It can only hurt you if you fall for it. Now that you know, you can spread this knowledge to others and stop the spread — much like you would with COVID-19. These scams may not kill you, but the economic pain you’ll feel will make everything else much worse.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.

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