Small businesses report phishing scams while applying for loans

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More help is on the way for small businesses struggling because of the pandemic. Nearly 500,000 loans, totaling $52 billion, have already been approved.

It's the second round of help for businesses, but along with waiting for money, owners are also facing scammers.

Sending building kits and renting pottery equipment is the only business now at Penguin Foot Pottery in Logan Square.

When co-owner Chris Busse tried to apply for loans he got bombarded with phishing scams.

"They were obviously scam things," Busse said. "There were like 20 one right after another."

"It would appear people are trying to get business owners to apply through portals, money or personal information through a site where they don't need to," said Bo Steiner, US Small Business Administration, Illinois District Director.

Steiner urged applicants to apply as soon as possible through a legitimate lenders and watch out for scammers.

"We're not going to ask for money. Go to the SBA website to look up the proposal lender you want to work with to make sure they are one of the approved lenders in the program," Steiner said.

"Be very careful what you click on. Make sure it's your bank and make sure it's your lender," said Nancy McClelland, a CPA who specializes in small businesses at The Dancing Accountant.

At Penguin Foot Pottery, Busse has changed passwords to try and prevent getting texts from scammers, and shared his experience with other small business owners.

"Don't click on anything, and go through the original site," Busse said.

Busse said the stress of trying to wait to see if he gets a loan from the SBA or city while reinventing his business is stressful enough without people trying to take advantage.
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