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Thursday, July 18, 2024

SCAM ALERT: COVID-19 relief scams target small business owners

Scam artists take advantage of the pandemic by targeting small businesses, claiming they are missing out on (fake) pandemic relief the business owner has never even heard of.

Here is how it works: You receive a call, email, or Facebook message directed to you as a business owner or bookkeeper. It seems to come from a legitimate organization.

The person you communicate with asks if your business is taking advantage of a COVID-19 relief package or government grant you are unaware of. When you tell them you aren’t, they offer to sign you up right away.

Scammers may then ask you to pay a processing or delivery fee to receive your relief funds. Unfortunately, once they get your “fee,” they disappear.

Sometimes these offers appear to come from someone you trust. Scammers are either hacking social media accounts or creating separate, lookalike profiles by stealing photos and personal information.

• Never pay money for “free money.” If anyone claims you can receive money for free by paying a fee, don’t believe them. This is a scam tactic.

• Understand government grants. If your business is awarded a government grant, the government won’t ask you to pay fees to receive it. Before believing what a stranger says about a grant, check the official list of federal grant-making agencies at Grants.gov.

Send your story to: rahnl@windomnews.com, or call 507-831-3455. Stories will appear in an upcoming edition and in a Thursday website report. By sharing your story, you may prevent others from being scammed.

Watch www.windomnews.com for regular weekday updates at 8 a.m./noon/5 p.m., plus BREAKING stories at other times. Follow CoCoCitizen @CitPub on Twitter.

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