The SBA and its Office of the Inspector General said it has received several complaints from small businesses about abusive marketing practices, scams, and exorbitant fees charged by firms offering to help them obtain a loan, grant, or other federal funds from the SBA.
Some of the complaints include firms charging small businesses high fees to provide assistance applying to SBA funding programs and guaranteeing funding if they paid the fees. The agency said it does not endorse or give preference to specific private companies or their clients.
Some firms have also charged small businesses for services never requested after the small business gave bank account and routing information to a caller claiming to be a firm offering assistance. The SBA said it recommends that small businesses never provide social security numbers, bank account information, or credit card numbers to anyone; and, never over the telephone.
The agency and OIG have also heard complaints about firms alleging that a small business would be issued a "forfeiture letter" that would make the small business ineligible for any SBA funding for three years if the small business refused to use the firm's services.
The SBA advised small businesses to use its Web site (www.sba.gov) to get free assistance in person or by calling one of the agency's 68 district offices. Complaints about suspicious firms can be sent to www.sba.gov/ig.