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Beware of scammers targeting PPP small business loan applicants

Posted at 4:56 PM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-02 11:32:41-04

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — "I want to push past the issues and see if we can actually stay afloat," said small business owner Hamada Zahawi.

Like many entrepreneurs across the country, Hamada Zahawi, is determined to get approved for a much needed stimulus backed loan.

It’s all to hold up his company, Write Track Admissions, a consulting service for prospective students applying to college. Requesting the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan last month, he’s been eagerly awaiting a response.

"I'm sitting reading a book in isolation, I get a call," said Zahawi.

He didn't answer but the caller left a voicemail.

“I'm working on your PPP application. I need the addendum to be uploaded. It’s incomplete. So if you have a minute, please fill out the addendum and upload it at the end with all the information and then going ahead and approve the deal," said the caller.

In fact, it turns out this was a scammer – something the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau now say they’re getting more complaints of recently.

More than 4 million businesses have now submitted loan applications with the SBA- their sensitive information now online --- making them a ripe target.

There’s a lot of information that’s hit the SBA systems. I don't how secure they are, I don’t know if they’re being sold to third parties

Zahawi says he knew better than to give up any personal information but, he worries about the void scammers are trying to fill as applicants impatiently await a lifeline.

"The chances are, you’re going to scramble for any phone call you can get regarding PPP," said Zahawi. "They are so smart to know that people are so desperate to get information because we’re not getting information whether it be from the SBA or the banks," he added.

"There's going to be people that try to capitalize on that, and those are scammers and they’re out there," said Laura Blankenship from the Better Business Bureau.

Blankenship of the BBB says it’s vital that small business owners put their guard up.

"Ask them to identify themselves, ask for their credentials and then hang up, search for the phone number of that organization, call and get more information," said Blankenship.

Make sure that you’re working through a verified lender when you apply. there are scammers creating fake websites and applications out there. Stick with the sba.gov for more information.

HERE’S THE REBOUND RUNDOWN:

  • SCAMMERS ARE TARGETING LOAN SEEKERS
  • LOOK FOR THE RED FLAGS LIKE REQUESTS FOR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER
  • WATCH OUT FOR HIGH PRESSURE TACTICS OR THREATS

If you are interested in getting tips on navigating small business loans, I’ll be doing a Facebook live with two experts on Monday at noon over on our WXYZ Facebook page.

I'll be asking your questions so please send them our way at REBOUND-DETROIT@WXYZ.COM