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Scam Targets Small Business Owners Seeking Payroll Relief

Chip Somodevilla

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins' office is warning small business owners of another emerging scam targeting small business owners who might be seeking payroll relief through the new "Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act."

The loan program is designed to help employers keep staff on the payroll through the COVID-19 crisis.

Collins says the scammers are calling business owners and telling them falsely that they need to pay a fee in order to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program Loan. That, says Collins, is wrong and that there is no fee to apply for the assistance.

“This scam is another reminder of how ruthless criminals are in seeking to steal from hard working Americans during a time of economic hardship.” says Collins in a statement.

Collins, a Republican, worked on the business relief package as part of the Small Business Task Force, along with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, Ben Cardin, D-MD, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH.

Collins is urging anyone who gets such a call to hang up and then call a special fraud hotline her committee has established at 1-855-303-9470 to report the incident.

A number of agencies, including the Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Trade Commission say there has been a surge of scams since Congress passed a $2 trillion funding package to fight the coronavirus and stimulate the economy, including scams targeting individuals who might be receiving stimulus deposits, seeking tax, mortgage and other relief, as well as an uptick in viruses, malware and phishing attacks.