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Small businesses warned about fraudulent attempts

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By The Staff

The U.S. Small Business Administration is warning small businesses not to respond to letters falsely claiming to have been sent by the SBA asking for bank account information in order to qualify them for federal tax rebates.

The fraudulent letters were sent out with what appears to be an SBA letterhead to small businesses across the country, advising recipients that they may be eligible for a tax rebate under the Economic Stimulus Act, and that SBA is assessing their eligibility for such a rebate. The letter asks the small business to provide the name of its bank and account number.

These letters have not been sent by or authorized by the SBA, and all small businesses are strongly advised not to respond to them.

The scheme is similar in many ways to e-mail scams often referred to as "phishing" that seek personal data and financial account information that enables another party to access bank accounts or to engage in identity theft.

The SBA is working with the SBA Office of Inspector General to investigate this matter. The Office of Inspector General asks that anyone who receives such a letter report it to the OIG Fraud Line at (800) 767-0385 or by e-mail at OIGHotline@sba.gov.