Rutledge: Hang up on Paycheck Protection Loan scammers

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LITTLE ROCK – Scam artists are contacting local business owners by email and phone, pretending to be affiliated with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan program administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) under the CARES Act, according to a release today from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

While these loans have been the lifeline for many businesses and their employees, the scams can result in even greater losses and financial peril, says Rutledge.

“These paycheck protection loans are a key part to our economic recovery to assist hard-working Arkansas businesses and their employees,” said the Attorney General. “But, it is shameful and illegal to pose as a government entity to provide false and deceptive services to businesses that are trying to use the paycheck protection loan to survive.”

Scam artists look for ways to turn a business’s or consumer’s cash into their own. Often, government-assistance programs like the PPP provide an obvious and easy target. Scammers use these governmental initiatives by pretending to be an SBA-authorized lender or similar loan program by telephone or email. In email, scammers will impersonate legitimate websites and use email addresses by changing one or two letters in the name. By telephone, scammers sometimes utilize illegal robocalls as a way to reach business owners and consumers. In both situations, scam businesses are seeking upfront payment of fees.

Attorney General Rutledge has identified tips for Arkansans to use when contacted by email or phone regarding a paycheck protection loan:

• If you get an email that looks like it is from the SBA or your bank, do not click on any links. Instead, go directly to the organization’s website for information;
• The government will never ask you to pay upfront and it will not call to ask for your Social Security, bank account or credit card number;
• Be cautious about companies that offer to expedite or facilitate your ability to get PPP loans. If you are considering using an online provider or lender, stick with those you already know and trust;
• Be wary of companies you’ve never heard of or that call or send you emails out of the blue; and
• Check the spelling of email and website addresses, as scammers frequently utilize addresses that appear similar to legitimate ones in order to deceive.

For more information, or if you suspect a PPP government-assistance scam, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or oag@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

White River Now News Team

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