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SBA Alert: Beware of Email Phishing Scams

  • August 14th, 2020

The U.S. Small Business Administration is sending a cyber warning alert to loan applicants seeking federal aid in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Email phishing campaigns where malicious actors are impersonating the SBA and its Office of Disaster Assistance to collect personally identifiable information (PII) for fraudulent purposes have surfaced.

The SBA is particularly concerned about scam emails targeting applicants of the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program asking them to verify their accounts using a third-party online platform to collect personally identifiable information.

It should be noted that any email communication from the SBA will come from email accounts ending in sba.gov, and nothing more. Loan applicants are being advised to look out for email scams and phishing attacks using the SBA logo. These may be attempts to obtain PII, access personal banking accounts, or install ransomware or malware.

Applicants are also advised to help protect their identity and privacy by never providing their full name, date of birth, social security number, address, phone numbers, email addresses, case numbers, or any other PII in public-facing comments or responses to third-party emails.

The SBA will not use a third-party platform to:

  • Actively seek PII
  • Search a third-party platform for or by PII
  • “Follow” public users proactively without a waiver

Borrowers who are in the process of applying for an SBA loan and receive email correspondence asking for PII are cautioned to ensure that any application numbers referenced in the email are consistent with their actual application number. Loan applicants and borrowers are also advised not to click on any links or open any attachments, which are often used in phishing email scams.

Additionally, federal agencies that provide disaster recovery assistance will never ask for a fee or payment to apply for financial assistance, and government employees do not charge for any recovery assistance provided.

An SBA logo on a web page does not guarantee the information is either accurate or endorsed by the SBA. Loan applicants and borrowers should be vigilant in protecting their personal information and data assets. Visit https://www.sba.gov/COVIDfraudalert to learn more about scams and fraud schemes.

If you suspect an email is associated with a fraud scam targeting the SBA, report it to the Office of Inspector General’s Hotline at 800-767-0385 or online at https://www.sba.gov/COVIDfraudalert.

Loan applicants who have questions about SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program may call the Disaster Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or send an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

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New Car Tag to Support Alabama Small Businesses – Press Release

  • August 14th, 2020

Birmingham, Ala. – Alabama residents may soon be able to show their commitment of supporting local businesses with a distinctive car tag. The Shop Local Support Small Business tag will be produced if at least 1,000 complete an online application and pay a $50 fee by July 31, 2021.

Main Street Alabama, the benefitting organization, will use proceeds to support workshops and small business grants.

Casey Middlebrooks, Hoover City Councilman, explained that a group of Jefferson County Councilors meet regularly to discuss impending issues and wanted to find a way to support local businesses after the pandemic hit in March.

“We felt Main Street Alabama had the statewide presence and resources to facilitate support to small businesses throughout the state,” said Middlebrooks.

“Small businesses keep it local by consistently sponsoring the local baseball team, providing gift baskets for the local charity drives and creating jobs in their community,” said Mary Helmer, Main Street Alabama State Coordinator. “With this program, individuals can show their dedication to their favorite small businesses, who in many cases are their friends and neighbors, with a tag that gives back to them with workshops and grants focused on strengthening their business.”

Darrell O’Quinn, Birmingham City Councilor, commissioned Chris Seagle, graphic designer in Birmingham, to create the artwork for the tag. Seagle’s other work includes the Market at Pepper Place in Birmingham and City of Talladega.

To learn more about purchasing the Shop Local Support Small Business tag, visit Main Street Alabama’s website, www.mainstreetalabama.org.

Main Street Alabama is a private non-profit and state coordinating program of Main Street America. The National Main Street Four-Point Approach™ is an over 40 year model that focuses work in four areas: organization, design, promotion and economic vitality with strategies unique to the community and based on market-based outcome.

To pre-commit, click on the “learn more” link and enter information. Tags will be produced if 1,000 pre-commitments are made by July 31, 2021 and will be made available after that date.

For more information, contact trisha@mainstreetalabama.org.

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Alabama Small Business Commission 2017 Annual Report

  • January 10th, 2018

Own a Business in Alabama? Be ADOR’s B.E.S.T.

  • January 9th, 2018

Check out ADOR’s Mobile-area State Tax Seminar on Jan. 23

MOBILE, Jan. 9, 2018 – State tax obligations for business owners – licenses, sales tax, property tax, withholding, etc. – are a lot to be responsible for. To help Alabama business owners better understand and master these requirements, the Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR) invites business owners to ADOR’s free Business Essentials for State Taxpayers (B.E.S.T.) Seminar on Tuesday, Jan. 23, at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. in Mobile.

The seminar will be held at the Mobile Taxpayer Service Center, Bel Air Tower, 851 E. I-65 Service Road South.

B.E.S.T. Seminars help new business owners navigate through unfamiliar tax complexities while updating current business owners on tax law changes. Conducted by ADOR specialists, B.E.S.T. Seminars offer a brief but comprehensive overview of Alabama’s business taxes, the business owner’s tax obligations, the necessary forms, and other requirements. Seminar attendees also receive information on electronic filing and Alabama’s ONE SPOT (https://revenue.alabama.gov/sales-use/one-spot/), a free Internet portal that allows business taxpayers to file and pay state, county, and city sales, use, and rental taxes all in one place!

While there is no charge to attend the B.E.S.T. Seminars, reservations are required to ensure adequate space is available. To make your reservation for a Mobile B.E.S.T. Seminar, contact Jerlean Hudson at 251-344-4737, ext. 3539.

For more information on B.E.S.T. Seminars and other B.E.S.T. resources, visit our website at https://revenue.alabama.gov/taxpayer-advocacy/b-e-s-t-seminars/. B.E.S.T. Seminars are two hours long plus additional time for questions and answers. Please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled seminar.

Scammers Making Phone Calls to Collect Tax Debt, Claim to be ADOR Staff

  • October 5th, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Sept. 28, 2016 – The Alabama Department of Revenue has received several complaints
regarding a phone scam targeting taxpayers. The callers claim to be ADOR employees who are attempting
to collect debts. These callers are NOT employees of the Department of Revenue.

Victims who answer these calls may be told they owe money to ADOR or to the state, and it must be paid
promptly, perhaps through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. The criminals who make these calls can
sound convincing and may use fake names and other bogus ADOR identification methods. They may know
a lot about their targets, and they may alter the caller ID to make it look like ADOR is calling.

Victims who refuse to cooperate may be threatened with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a business or
driver’s license. Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private
information. NEVER share your Social Security number or other private information to someone who has
called you in this manner. These callers may become hostile or insulting to victims who do not cooperate.

Just hang up if this happens. Scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request when their calls are not
answered. Ignore these messages and DO NOT call the number they leave.
Remember – the Alabama Department of Revenue WILL NEVER:

 Call a taxpayer to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit
card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, ADOR will contact taxpayers by mail to handle official business.

 Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have a taxpayer arrested
for not paying.

 Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount
ADOR says is owed.

 Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Stay alert! Scammers continuously change tactics, and variations of these scams continue year-round,
peaking when scammers find prime opportunities to strike.

For the original press release, click here.