Businesses Warned of Telephone Scam

U.S. Small Business Administration warns businesses of callers who imply links with agency, seek financial data, fees

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Small Business Administration iscautioning small businesses across the country to be wary oftelephone callers who imply that they are connected with the agencyand ask for privileged financial or personal data and solicit feesfor products or membership.

Businesses contacted by anyone claiming to represent a privateentity identified as "SBA," or an entity with a namesuggestive of the Small Business Administration, are asked tocontact the SBA's Office of Inspector General and to providethat office with the details of any such contact.

Such communications should be directed to the U.S. SmallBusiness Administration, Office of Inspector General, 409 Third St.S.W., 7th Fl., Washington, DC, 20416; (202) 205-6586; fax: (202)205-7382 (fax); or

In recent weeks, the agency has received a number of complaintsfrom members of the public advising that representatives of aprivate entity identifying itself as "SBA," "SBAOnline" or "Small Business Advantage" have contactedtheir businesses seeking to interest them in purchasing certaincommercial services allegedly offered by their organization, or inpaying to become members of "SBA."

In some instances, the callers have attempted to obtain specificfinancial or employee data relating to the contacted business,sometimes asking the business to confirm information the calleralready has. In some cases, callers have requested specificpersonal data, such as Social Security number or mother'smaiden name of the contacted individual.

The public should note that the U.S. Small BusinessAdministration neither solicits membership fees nor contactsbusinesses to obtain sensitive information about small businessesor individuals unless it is part of a particular matter pendingbefore the agency (such as a loan application).

Small businesses contacted by an individual claiming to be arepresentative of "SBA," or of an entity with a namesuggestive of the U.S. Small Business Administration, shouldimmediately ask whether that person is, in fact, employed by theU.S. Small Business Administration. A legitimate representative ofthe Small Business Administration will provide his or her name,confirm that he or she is employed by the agency, and provide atelephone number at the Small Business Administration which can becalled with any questions. Any reluctance on the part of theindividual to provide his or her name, the full identity of his orher employer, or a telephone number should be cause forsuspicion.

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