(WIVB) – Homeland Security officials are warning consumers to beware of scams linked to the Small Business Program stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those loans can mean free money for both legitimate businesses- and scammers.
When the government set up the Payroll Protection Program to help businesses slammed by the pandemic, it set up loan forgiveness for business owners that used the money properly.
But scammers using stolen identities can leave innocent victims holding the bag.
Jennifer Majdanik was stunned when she opened up an an email from her credit card company, notifying her that a credit reporting agency had received a hard inquiry about a loan application.
She then did a Google search and found that the inquiry was made by the Small Business Administration, responding to someone with her most sensitive personal information.
“I asked them to take that inquiry off my report because it was not me, and it was fraud,” Majdanik said. “The woman on the phone said that she had had a lot of these calls today.”
Majdanik also notified the three major credit reporting agencies and had them put a credit freeze on her reports.
Just the right move. said Robert Dunn of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service, because of how it can affect your credit score.
“Hard inquiry impacts your credit negatively, shows up on your credit report for two years, and it is something important to monitor,” Dunn said.
Of the options for protecting your finances when you suspect identity theft, Dunn says Majdanik took the most aggressive approach.
“I would say at a minimum, consider a “fraud alert” and maybe even a “credit freeze” which will completely lock down your credit report, or lock down your credit file,” Dunn said. “Nobody can open accounts, or yourself, cannot open any new accounts while that freeze is on.”