New England small businesses that received federal Payroll Protection Program loans are being targeted by email scams.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts has warned businesses of an uptick in bogus emails related to the U.S. Small Business Administration's release last year of the names and addresses of more than 600,000 Bay State PPP loan recipients.
Federal authorities have dealt with several types of scammers since the PPP program began last year and have been warning small business owners to keep their guard up.
“Scammers are using this publicly available information to send phishing emails to PPP loan recipients, impersonating the recipients’ PPP lenders to request sensitive information, such as email addresses and passwords, Social Security numbers, and financial information,” according to Robinson+Cole’s Data Privacy + Security Insider blog.
“This information could be used to gain access to a business’s computer network to compromise confidential information or for identity theft.”
The Hartford-based law firm advises small business owners to approach every email with caution, especially those with some form of “Payroll Protection Program” or “PPP” in the subject line, and take specific steps before opening them.
“Recipients of PPP loans should carefully review the headers of emails that appear to come from their PPP lenders to ensure that the domain of the sender’s email address matches the domain of other emails received from the lender,” the firm advised.
“They also should use common sense to question whether the lender is likely to be contacting the recipient at that particular time (e.g., in response to an application or loan forgiveness), or whether the timing appears to be unconnected to other communications with the lender.”
Do not respond to, or click any links, in any suspicious emails.
If you’re unsure of an email or suspicious of its timing or contents, call your lender to double check.
CBIA has a host of employer resources on cybersecurity, which is an issue for all businesses, but especially for small businesses.