Lompoc business owner almost victim of PPP loan scam

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Lompoc business owner warns other small businesses after he nearly got caught up in a paycheck protection program or P3 loan scam.

Business was booming last year for Joseph Benton.

“Since the start of the pandemic, I have been busier than ever,” Benton said.

Benton organizes virtual trainings, so he never had to close his doors.

“The kind of work I do is in a lot more demand, which is why this whole problem came up with the SBA contacting me,” he said.

Benton says he was caught off guard last week when he received a call from the Small Business Administration with concerns about a PPP loan filed in his name.

“The first thing I said was, ‘No, no, no. I didn’t ask for a loan’ and they said, ‘Well that’s good because it wouldn’t have worked out anyway. way because you froze your credit. ‘ “

Dawn Golik, director of the Fresno District Office for Small Business Administration, said the SBA would more likely contact you by email than by phone.

“Any communication from the SBA that is legitimate will come from an email address that ends in @ sba.gov and businesses can certainly contact our office if they are concerned about the legitimacy of any communication they receive,” he said. Golik said.

Benton says he was able to resolve the issue with the SBA and now suggests other business owners consider freezing their credit as well.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like to try to erase this information from your credit report – especially if you had withdrawn money and then had to deal with debt that suddenly built up on you. me – that would be very difficult to manage. I’m so grateful that I froze my credit, ”Benton said.

Not everyone is lucky enough that fraudulent activity is detected by the SBA before you notice it.

The SBA says it takes fraud very seriously and that people who suspect they may be victims should contact the SBA office closest to them; for us on the central coast, the closest office is the Fresno district office.

On Wednesday, the SBA announced it was out of money for borrowers. This comes a few weeks before the expected May 31 deadline. The SBA says it will continue to fund outstanding approved PPP applications from other lenders, but will only accept new applications from community financial institutions, which typically serve minority borrowers.

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