Beware of scams involving the Paycheck Protection Program

GLENSIDE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The Justice Department has brought criminal charges against at least 120 people related to the Paycheck Protection Program.

Action News has a warning for small business owners if you get a call about your PPP loan.

A business owner in Montgomery County alerted the Troubleshooters to this one wanting to make sure no one falls for this latest pandemic-related scam.

Like so many other business owners, podiatrist Alicia Canzanese sought federal funds to stay afloat amid the pandemic.

"I had to apply for a payroll protection loan after the first round of stimulus so that I could continue to pay my employees," she said. "With a payroll protection loan, if you used it a certain way, if you fit a certain number of criteria, you could get the loan forgiven."

So Canzanese applied for that loan forgiveness. Then last week, she got a message from someone claiming to be from the bank that issued the loan.

"I heard the voicemail saying, 'There's an issue with your loan, or we have some questions about your loan forgiveness, please call us back,'" she said.


When Canzanese did, she got suspicious.

"The pattern of how they answer the phone just wasn't the same as it normally was," she added.
That is because the caller was a con artist. Fortunately for Canzanese, she did what is advised by authorities when receiving a call from someone asking for personal information. She hung up and called Bank of America directly.

Her bank confirmed the message was a scam. And for PPP loans, in most cases, no one will call you, experts say.

"Their communication preferences for that was that everything was going to be 100% electronic. Everything was via email and webform," Canzanese said. "If something doesn't quite seem right, call back the main number for the bank. Contact the bank directly."


And that is true any time you get a call from someone asking for your financial information or your personal information.

The Troubleshooters did also talk to the Small Business Administration. It warned that it only communicates from email addresses ending in @sba.gov.

It also says if you are asked for loan-related information, make sure the referenced application number matches yours. And if someone promises to get you approval of an SBA loan in exchange for payment, that is a red flag.

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