The City of Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) is warning small businesses about scammers seeking to prey on the small business community that has already been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. OED has received numerous reports of scammers posing as either lenders or third-party providers offering to assist businesses with their federal Small Business Administration (SBA) loan applications.
It is maddening that someone would prey on small businesses during this difficult time. Anyone can be victimized by a COVID-19 scam. OED is willing and ready to support businesses through this pandemic and on the road to recovery. We urge small businesses to be vigilant in who they disclose information to and ask them to report potential scammers to the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.Bobby Lee, Director of the Office of Economic Development
If you are contacted by someone promising to get approval of your SBA loan in exchange for payment up front or by someone offering a high interest rate on a small business loan, you should suspect fraud. There is no fee or charge in applying for SBA loans, including Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), SBA Express Bridge Loans, and SBA Debt Relief. Any small business has an opportunity to apply for these federal loans, free of charge.
OED offers free SBA technical assistance to all businesses looking to apply for an SBA loans, including EIDL, PPP, SBA Express Bridge Loan, and SBA Debt relief. Businesses can call OED at (206) 684-8090 from Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email OED at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime and receive free assistance. When you call, you can ask for an interpreter. This assistance is free.
Predatory scams tend to target immigrant- and refugee-owned businesses, taking advantage of either language barriers or misinformation.
If contacted by a scammer, OED recommends businesses report scams to the Washington State Office of Attorney General, by calling 1-800-551-4636 from Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or by completing a claim at https://fortress.wa.gov/atg/formhandler/ago/ComplaintForm.aspx.