(WIVB) – Homeland security officials are warning consumers to beware of scams related to the Small Business Program stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
These loans can mean free money for legitimate businesses and scammers.
When the government implemented the Payroll Protection Program to help businesses affected by the pandemic, it implemented a loan forgiveness for business owners who used the money correctly.
But crooks using stolen identities can let innocent victims hold the bag.
Jennifer Majdanik was stunned when she opened an email from her credit card company, informing her that a credit reporting agency had received a request for information regarding a loan application.
She then did a Google search and found that the request had been made by the Small Business Administration, responding to someone with their most sensitive personal information.
“I asked them to remove this investigation from my report because it was not me, and it was a fraud,” said Majdanik. “The woman on the phone said she got a lot of those calls today.”
Majdanik also notified the three major credit bureaus and asked them to freeze his credit reports.
Just the right move. said Robert Dunn of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service, because of how it can affect your credit score.
“A thorough investigation negatively impacts your credit, shows up on your credit report for two years and is something important to watch out for,” Dunn said.
Of the options for protecting your finances when you suspect identity theft, Dunn says Majdanik has taken the more aggressive approach.
“I would say at a minimum, consider a ‘fraud alert’ and maybe even a ‘credit freeze’ that will completely lock out your credit report or lock your credit report,” Dunn said. “No one can open accounts, or you yourself cannot open new accounts while this freeze is activated.”