SBA Launches PPP Forgiveness Portal, Investigating Fraud
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has launched an online portal for businesses that received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. The PPP began in 2020 as part of Congress’s efforts to assist small business struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread furloughs and layoffs.
The new SBA microsite allows borrowers of up $150,000 to apply for PPP forgiveness through directforgiveness.sba.gov. It streamlines loan forgiveness processing for PPP recipients. The portal requires individuals/businesses to register to start their request. Or, registered users with login credentials can sign-in directly at the site.
Download the pdf, PPP Direct Forgiveness Platform User Guide, for additional information.
Participating lending institutions can review applications and make issue decisions using the same platform. However, not all lenders have opted in to the new SBA portal. If you received a PPP loan, it is recommended that you check with your lender to confirm whether it is participating in the portal. You can also get assistance through the SBA’s customer service line: 877-552-2692.
In related news, instances of PPP application fraud took center stage in an August academic report. The study highlights how the government’s push to provide financial aid quickly during the pandemic led to a surge in fraud. The lack of traditional lender safeguards could have led to roughly 1.8 million fraudulent loans (more than 15% of the total 11.8 million loans).
The authors of the fraud report called out financial technology firms as likely sources of dubious loans. These “fintechs” made about 29% of PPP loans, but accounted for more than half of those considered suspicious – perhaps totaling as much as $76 billion. One indicator was multiple loans going to more than one business at the same residential address.
The SBA has said that it is committed to fighting fraud in the PPP and its other programs. In March 2021, a California man pleaded guilty to submitting six fraudulent PPP loan applications and two fraudulent Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applications.
The agency encourages individuals to report fraud by contacting the Office of Inspector General at 800-767-0385 or the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.