Small businesses: Where to go for financial relief information
April 2, 2020
Attorney, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection
If you own a small business or work for one, you’ve seen the headlines about financial relief that may be available to some companies through the Small Business Administration (SBA). But you’ve also heard about scammers who extract a grain of truth from the news and distort it in an effort to cheat small businesses. Now more than ever it’s critical for small businesses to go straight to the source for accurate information about what’s happening at the SBA. And that source, of course, is the Small Business Administration’s dedicated page, sba.gov/coronavirus.
The SBA’s Coronavirus Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources page offers the latest information about the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advances, SBA Debt Relief, and SBA Express Bridge Loans. Yes, there are legitimate business groups and financial institutions sharing information, too. But given the number of fraudsters out to make a quick buck with bogus websites and phony email, your safest bet it to go straight to the SBA by carefully typing the URL sba.gov/coronavirus into the address bar at the top of your browser.
Here are more tips to help you avoid scams targeting small businesses.
- Scammers often mimic the look and feel of legitimate email. You’ve heard warnings for years about email phishing attempts. Fraudsters have upped their game in response. They’ve been known to copy logos of financial institutions and government agencies, including the SBA, and use wording that sounds familiar. They also manipulate email addresses so that a message looks to be from a legitimate source – but isn’t. That’s why it’s dangerous to respond to those emails. Instead go directly to the SBA site.
- Don’t click on links. Say you get an email that says it’s from your bank or a government agency. Don’t click on any links. It could load malware onto your computer. If you think you may need to respond, pick up the phone and call the office directly, but don’t use a number listed in the email. That could be fake, too. Instead, search online for a genuine telephone number or call your banker using the number you’ve always used. Yes, now is a good time to keep in close contact with your financial institution, but employ the same established lines of communication you used before COVID-19 became a concern.
- Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls. Some scammers may try the personal approach by calling you and impersonating someone from a financial institution or government agency. Don’t engage in conversation. If you think you may need to respond, call using a number you know is legit.
- Watch out for application scams. Some small businesses report they’ve received unsolicited calls or email from people claiming to have an inside track to expedite financial relief. The people contacting them may charge upfront fees or ask for sensitive financial information – account numbers, tax IDs, Social Security numbers, and the like. Don’t take the bait. It’s a scam. Applying for a loan was a step-by-step process before the Coronavirus crisis and it’s a step-by-step process now. That’s why the SBA’s sba.gov/coronavirus site is the safest place for you to start.
- Alert others to Coronavirus relief check scams. Most people have read the news about Coronavirus relief checks that many Americans may receive. The FTC Consumer Blog has advice about spotting relief check scams. Share the tips with your co-workers, family, and social networks.
If you spot a potential Coronavirus-related scam, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
30 March 2020
Governor Northam Issues TEMPORARY STAY AT HOME ORDER DUE TO NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19). You can view the full executive order to the right in Related Documents.
Governor Northam Issues Statewide Stay at Home Order
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today issued a statewide Stay at Home order to protect the health and safety of Virginians and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The executive order takes effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order.
The order directs all Virginians to stay home except in extremely limited circumstances. Individuals may leave their residence for allowable travel, including to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, obtain goods and services like groceries, prescriptions, and others as outlined in Executive Order Fifty-Three, and engage in outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements.
The executive order also directs all Virginia institutions of higher education to stop in-person classes and instruction. Private campgrounds must close for short-term stays, and beaches will be closed statewide except for fishing and exercise.
“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” said Governor Northam. “Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing. I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.”
The full text of Executive Order Fifty-Five can be found here.
Last week, Governor Northam issued Executive Order Fifty-Three closing certain non-essential businesses, prohibiting public gatherings of more than 10 people, and directing all K-12 schools to remain closed for the rest of the academic year. A Frequently Asked Questions guide about Executive Order Fifty-Three can be found here.
For the latest information about the COVID-19 outbreak, visit virginia.gov/coronavirus or CDC.gov/coronavirus.
25 March 2020
The Louisa County Sheriff’s Office is announcing an initiative to assist with delivering prescriptions locally during the COVID-19 crisis.
Louisa Sheriff Donnie Lowe decided that the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office is going to be providing an additional service to our community. The sheriff’s office will be offering to pick-up and deliver prescription medication for older adults and other county residents who are identified as having a higher risk of serious health complications if they were to contract COVID-19. This service will be provided for prescription medications only.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are at higher risk from severe illness include adults 65 years of age or older, pregnant women, and those with underlying medical conditions that include heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, HIV and asthma.
Qualifying community members can take advantage of the program by following these steps:
1. Call your pharmacy and refill your prescription.
2. Pay for your prescription over the phone.
3. Tell your pharmacist that a Louisa County Sheriff’s Office Deputy will be picking it up.
4. Find out when the prescription will be ready for pick-up
5. Call the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office at 540-967-1234 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
6. Tell them your name, address, phone number and date of birth.
7. Tell them the name of your pharmacy and date and time when your prescription(s) will be ready.
8. A member of the sheriff’s office will contact you when your medication is ready to be dropped off
9. The recipient shows the deputy a valid photo ID to prove ownership and signs for the prescription.
“Please be patient with us as we get this underway,” said Sheriff Lowe, “and I hope this helps stop the spread in some small way.”
24 March 2020
Sheriff Donnie Lowe & Commonwealth Attorney Rusty McGuire Talk About Challenges Behind COVID-19
LOUISA, VIRGINIA - Today, Sheriff Donnie Lowe and Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty McGuire announced public safety priorities during the State of Emergency. As Covid-19 continues to present a public health crisis unparalleled in modern times, our offices are taking proactive actions to address this urgent challenge. We salute our first responders, law enforcement partners, medical professionals, public safety personnel and others who are serving with selfless courage and distinction at this historic moment.
Together we have taken steps to ensure operational continuity and responsiveness in both of our offices. We have also worked with the Central Virginia Regional Jail and reviewed the file of every criminal defendant. Some with non-violent histories and chargers may be released pending trial to minimize the risk of potential exposure to Covid-19.
These actions do not mean that those exploiting our citizens during this crisis will get a pass. In taking these steps, we have not and shall not recede from our duty to protect public safety and defend the rule of law. We will continue to take enforcement actions and make charging decisions based on the facts and evidence in each case. Those who use this pandemic to exploit our citizens will face swift action.
We are aware of reports that some hate groups have encouraged the use of Covid-19 as a weapon. We are also seeing phone calls falsely representing those seeking donations to scam our citizens. Our first responders must answer these calls with risk to their safety with potential exposure to Covid-19.
“We wish to make the following unmistakably clear anyone who thinks this crisis presents an opportunity to offend against our laws or citizens will be proven swiftly and decisively wrong. We will continue to hold criminal offenders accountable for their misconduct and honor our oath to uphold laws enacted to protect the dignity and security of all Louisa County residents” said Sheriff Lowe and Rusty McGuire.
20 March 2020
Federal and State Officials Launch Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force
“Exploiting a global pandemic for financial gain is not only morally reprehensible, it is likely criminal,” said Thomas T. Cullen, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia. “Federal prosecutors in Virginia are working closely with the FBI and the Virginia State Police to identify individuals who are engaging in coronavirus fraud, in its various forms, and preying on vulnerable populations. We are focused on the fraud, not the amount of the loss, and will utilize all available tools and statutes to put bad actors in federal prison.”
Some examples of coronavirus and COVID-19 scams include:
- Treatment scams: Scammers are offering to sell fake cures, vaccines, and advice on unproven treatments for COVID-19.
- Supply scams: Scammers are creating fake shops, websites, social media accounts, and email addresses claiming to sell medical supplies currently in high demand, such as surgical masks. When consumers attempt to purchase supplies through these channels, fraudsters pocket the money and never provide the promised supplies.
- Provider scams: Scammers are also contacting people by phone and email, pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, and demanding payment for that treatment.
- Charity scams: Scammers are soliciting donations for individuals, groups, and areas affected by COVID-19.
- Phishing scams: Scammers posing as national and global health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are sending phishing emails designed to trick recipients into downloading malware or providing personal identifying and financial information.
- App scams: Scammers are also creating and manipulating mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information.
- Investment scams: Scammers are offering online promotions on various platforms, including social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result. These promotions are often styled as "research reports," make predictions of a specific "target price," and relate to microcap stocks, or low-priced stocks issued by the smallest of companies with limited publicly available information.
- Price Gouging scams: Individuals and businesses may sell essential goods, like hand sanitizer, for significantly higher prices than in a non-emergency setting. It is legally considered price gouging when the price of one of these products increases more than 20 percent its price one week prior to an emergency declaration from the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- If you believe you have been victim of fraud, or need more information about COVID-19, please visit:
- For more information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, please visit:
- To report fraud directly to the FBI, please visit their website at:
17 March 2020
NEW LCSO POLICIES DUE TO THE CURRENT STATE OF EMERGENCY AND THE OUTBREAK OF COVID-19
Due to the current State of Emergency, and in an attempt to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 the following policies have been put into place by the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office:
- If you need something NON EMERGENCY from the sheriff’s office we are asking that you call our non-emergency number (540-967-1234) first, and we will see if we can resolve your request without you having to come to the sheriff’s office.
- We will also not be doing fingerprinting for anything other than criminal justice reasons.
- If you are interested in obtaining a copy of an accident report or an incident report please call first and will see if we can send that to you through email, or USPS.
- With regards to the Louisa County Courts, the Supreme Court of Virginia has issued a judicial emergency at the request of the governor amid the coronavirus outbreak. The order suspends all non-essential and non-emergency court proceedings in all circuit and district courts. All deadlines are tolled and extended for a period of 21 days. The order is in effect Monday, March 16, to Monday, April 6, 2020
For those less susceptible to a problematic infection of COVID-19, remember that just because you are less likely to have problems with an infection of COVID-19 the elderly that you come in contact with everyday may become extremely ill and possibly die from your infection.
- Practice Social Distancing
- Wash your hands
- Avoid crowds of 10 or more people
- Keep 6ft away from people
- Help your elderly relatives to self quarantine by picking up and delivering their groceries or perishables that cant be delivered to their homes.
- If you or especially the elderly have the option to stay home, just stay home.
#StayHomeDontSpread #DontbeaSpreader #FlattenTheCurve
As always, for any law enforcement, fire or medical issue, you can also call in to our Communications Center via 911 or on the non-emergency line at (540)967-1234
In an effort to limit potential exposure and eventual transmission to other members of our community, deputies and detectives responding to your call may ask you to step outside of your home when possible. This approach will not apply in an emergency situation in which immediate entry is necessary.
Again, as conditions change and more information becomes available, the Sheriff’s Office will continue to assess and adjust as the situation requires.
Links for information and Resources about COVID-19 Coronavirus:
Information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
For questions related to COVID-19 in Virginia http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/
For more specific information regarding current CDC travel advisories related to COVID-19, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html