The Federal Trade Commission and Small Business Administration (SBA) sent warning letters to two companies that may be misleading small businesses seeking SBA loans as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The letters are being sent to ITMedia Solutions, LLC (IT Media) and Lendio, Inc. (Lendio), whose marketing could lead consumers to believe they are affiliated with the SBA, or that consumers can apply on their site for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or other programs authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The letter to California-based IT Media, which operates SBA.com among other sites, highlights claims like “Your Paycheck Protection Program Loan starts here!” and encouraging consumers to “Get Started” with PPP loan applications.
The letter to Utah-based Lendio warns the company about its own claims and those of lead generators who work for it, including IT Media. In addition to the claims noted above, the letter also points to another Lendio lead generator whose site has claimed it was an authorized SBA loan packager for PPP and has advertised its services for a $495 fee, despite the SBA prohibiting lead generators or other agents from charging fees to PPP loan applicants.
The letters warn the recipients to take immediate action to ensure all deceptive claims are removed and to remediate any harm to small business consumers as a result of the claims. The letters also instruct the recipients to notify the FTC within 48 hours about the specific actions they have taken to address the agency’s concerns.