WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning the public about a company that has allegedly been deceiving hundreds of small business owners who are in need of loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
The FTC says the actual loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) help alleviate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but there are bad actors trying to get business owners to apply for the wrong program.
The FTC believes Ponte Investments, LLC is one of those bad actors. The commission has filed a case against the company, which allegedly falsely claimed to offer PPP loans through the SBA.
According to the FTC, the company promoted its “SBA Loan Program” and website “SBAloanprogram.com” by calling business owners and following up with emails that say things like “We are the SBALoanProgram.com and as mandated by the SBA, getting approved is easier than ever!”
The FTC says callers claim to be representatives of the SBA working with the business’s bank and urge the business owners to apply for a PPP loan right away.
“Business owners who’ve applied for loans through the defendant’s websites hoped for help from the federal government’s relief program but may be left empty-handed,” wrote the FTC. “Not only is this a waste of time and energy for them, and a loss for the businesses and their employees, but now someone else has their business information.”
The FTC offered these tips to avoid falling for this scam:
· If you get an email that looks like it’s from the SBA or your bank, don’t click on any links. Instead, go directly to the organization’s website for information.
· The government will not ask you to pay up front and it won’t 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’re 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.
If you’re a business owner, click here to find information about PPP loans and to learn more about SBA loan and debt relief options.