Small business owners often get calls, emails or letters from entities with motives that are far from altruistic. A good thing to keep in mind is that, "If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true." The SBA doesn't offer grants to small business owners. Help from a particular business won't increase your chances of getting government contracts. You don't have to pay to register in System for Award Management (SAM). Scammers are getting sneakier all the time, but you can still outsmart them.
Your government--federal, state, and local--is the best source of legitimate information. While government and government-funded entities may charge fees for training and services, they will be very clear about why they are charging the fees.
If you have a question about someone contacting you, keep some things in mind.
- Don't release any private information (especially Social Security numbers, credit card information, or banking information) in response to an unsolicited call, letter, or email.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for more information on a company before you commit to anything.
- Contact your state's Attorney General's office.
- Do a reverse search of the phone number on the internet--you'll often find that several people have listed the number as belonging to scammers. Ask for the number if you don't have caller ID.
Here are some tips that should help.
- Legitimate government entities will have websites and emails that end with .gov such as http://www.sba.gov.
- Search "scam" or "scams" on http://www.sba.gov. You'll find many of the scams that we already know exist.
- Report scams. Report to the BBB and to the Attorney General. If someone purports to be affiliated with the SBA, contact your SBA office.
- Contact your SBA office if you're not sure how to apply for small business certification programs or have other questions pertaining to your small business. We'll do our best to help and we won't charge you anything!