Be aware – Increased threat of identity theft and fraud
Fraudsters are taking advantage of uncertainty among business owners and individuals around COVID-19. Be vigilant in protecting your company and yourself against attempts to steal your business or personal information and grant or loan fraud. Exercise even more caution opening emails and clicking on links, and be wary of providing information over the phone, by email, or through unfamiliar websites.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently released the following advisory on scam and frauds related to the increased attention on Small Business Administration (SBA) lending as part of the Paycheck Protection Program.
SBA does not initiate contact on either 7a or disaster loans or grants. If you are proactively contacted by someone claiming to be from the SBA, suspect fraud.
If you are contacted by someone promising to get approval of an SBA loan, but requires any payment up front or offers a high interest bridge loan in the interim, suspect fraud.
Look out for phishing attacks/scams utilizing the SBA logo. These may be attempts to obtain your personally identifiable information (PII),to obtain personal banking access, or to install ransomware/malware on your computer.
If you are in the process of applying for an SBA loan and receive email correspondence asking for PII, ensure that the referenced application number is consistent with the actual application number.
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.
Any email communication from SBA will come from accounts ending with 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.
Report any suspected fraud to OIG’s Hotline at 800-767-0385 or online.
Here are some examples of scams you should be on the lookout for:
COVID-19 vaccine fraud, which includes fraudsters offering, for a fee, to provide potential victims with the vaccine sooner than permitted under the applicable vaccine distribution plan.
Phishing emails appearing to be from reputable sources like the CDC or World Health Organization that ask you to share personal information or contain links that could lead to malware being downloaded to your computer.
Malicious websites offering maps or statistics related to COVID-19 that ask you to share personal information to register or download malware to your computer
Social engineering scams asking you to send money or provide personal information over the phone or by email or text. Specifically, fraudsters are calling to schedule Coronavirus tests and collecting credit or debit card and other personal information for copays or other out-of-pocket expenses.
Charity scams asking for donations to unknown but seemingly legitimate groups (for your security, give to established, well-known organizations).
To learn more about protecting yourself or loved ones against identity theft and fraud, visit Safety & Security.
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