Business owners around the U.S. may have just had their identities compromised by the SBA site designed to help them.
If you had trouble accessing the SBA.gov site the past few days to apply for disaster assistance loans, you’re not alone. The application portal was showing a maintenance message for most of the day as thousands of business owners around the country rushed to apply for much-needed COVID aid. According to reports out of D.C., the SBA was alerted to a glitch that was exposing applicants’ Social Security numbers, names, birth dates and addresses as new applicants tried to complete it.
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The SBA has since taken the portal down to fix the issue and recommended businesses fill out a PDF application and upload it to submit instead. Right now, the SBA is asking borrowers to fill out the following forms immediately:
- Disaster Business Loan Application (SBA Form 5) or the Disaster Home/Sole Proprietor Loan Application (SBA Form 5C)
- Economic Injury Disaster Loan Supporting Information (Form P-019)
You’ll then upload those completed forms to the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan website. You may be asked to fill out additional forms later.
While there’s no confirmation yet on the number of business owners who could have been exposed through this issue, it’s imperative you take action now if you think you may have been exposed, especially considering your identity is more vital an asset to your business than maybe ever before.
An identity thief could use the compromised information to do any number of things that could leave you even more vulnerable than COVID has already made you—commit fraud in your name, apply for federal funds and “steal” your place in line, or even access your financial accounts and drain the remaining cash you do have on hand.
What You Need to Do Now
If you submitted an application for SBA disaster funding in the past few days you should be concerned that your business and personal financial information may have been compromised. Monitoring your personal and business credit has never been more important. The SBA disaster loan application process currently requires both a personal and business credit check. Fraud has already been happening in droves since COVID has pushed many Americans to work from home, with reports of increased phishing scams, fraud-focused phone calls and even app stores flooded with data-leaking apps.
While we would normally recommend a credit freeze if you believe you have been compromised, a freeze could delay or impede your ability to complete personal identity verifications and personal credit checks required for the SBA disaster loan application and other funding opportunities.
Our recommendation is to monitor your personal and business credit meticulously over the following weeks and months to ensure one of your business’s most important assets—your identity—isn’t being stolen or misused by a fraudster. You can pay for credit monitoring services to do this for you, or there are free tools that can help. Nav is the only place you can monitor your business and personal credit side by side and get alerts when things change— this is a service we offer all of our customers for free. If you’re more concerned about the possibility of identity theft, you may also want to consider one of our premium plans, which all offer identity theft protection and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance.
Please keep in mind this information is changing rapidly and is based on our current understanding of the programs. It can and likely will change. Although we will be monitoring and updating this as new information becomes available, please do not rely solely on this for your financial decisions. We encourage you to consult with your lawyers, CPAs and Financial Advisors. To review your real-time funding options with one of Nav’s lending experts, please contact us.
This article was originally written on March 26, 2020 and updated on June 25, 2020.