Question: I am a small business owner trying to re-structure my debt and stay alive. I have heard about SBA loans as part of the “stimulus package”. I have spoken to local banks who can get me up to $30k, but the fine print says I can only use the funds to pay off loans with their bank, or credit cards issued by their bank.

I received an incoming call from a company who claims to be able to help me prepare all my information and contact the lenders who are backed by SBA in order to get me $100k or more. (My company’s annual revenues were approximately $3M in ’08)

They want $3,000 up front before doing the processing. I found the company on the Las Vegas Secretary of State’s web site, but could not find them on BBB or the local Chamber of Commerce. How else can I tell if this company’s services are legit? As a custom home builder, if SBA funds are available, I really need access to some of those funds in order to get through this next year without laying off the few employees I have.


I wouldn’t trust any company that you can’t out plenty of information on – and I wouldn’t trust any company that is asking for $3,000 upfront to do processing.

I’d call the SBA and see if you can get an appointment to speak with one of their loan counselors. In fact, you might want to check out one of these (I got this off of the SBA website). The SBA provides small business counseling and training through a variety of programs and resource partners, located strategically around the country.

The SCORE Association (Service Corps of Retired Executives) is a resource partner of the SBA dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth and success of small businesses nationwide. There are more than 10,500 SCORE volunteers in 374 chapters operating in over 800 locations who assist small businesses with business counseling and training. SCORE also operates an active online counseling initiative.

Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)
The Office of Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) provides management assistance to current and prospective small business owners. SBDCs offer one-stop assistance to individuals and small businesses by providing a wide variety of information and guidance in central and easily accessible branch locations. The program is a cooperative effort of the private sector, the educational community and federal, state and local governments and is an integral component of Entrepreneurial Development’s network of training and counseling services.

U.S. Export Assistance Centers
U.S. Export Assistance Centers, located in major metropolitan areas throughout the United States, are one-stop shops ready to provide your small- or medium-sized business with local export assistance. Receive personalized assistance by professionals from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and other public and private organizations. It’s a partnership that makes it easier to get the help you need to compete and succeed in the global marketplace.

Women’s Business Centers (WBCs)
Women’s Business Centers represent a national network of nearly 100 educational centers designed to assist women start and grow small businesses. WBCs operate with the mission to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the world of business.

SBA District Offices
In addition to its resource partners, the SBA operates full service district offices in every state of the country. Locate the district office closest to you.

Score, or the small business development centers are probably your best bet. You should be able to find out through them who the legitimate lenders are and who might be able to assist you.

Hope this helps.

For more information about small businesses and scams, check out our stories on business plans, and other scams to watch out for.