SBA reports data breach on disaster loan application website



by Joyce M. Rosenberg

In this April 15, 2020 file photo, two people walk past a closed sign at a retail store in Chicago. The Small Business Administration reports that there was a potential data breach last month on its website that handles disaster loan applications. The agency says the personal information of nearly 8,000 business owners applying for economic disaster loans was potentially seen by other applicants on the SBA’s website on March 25. (AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh)

The Small Business Administration last month reported a potential data breach on its website that handles disaster loan applications.

The agency said on Tuesday that the nearly 8,000 homeowners applying for economic disaster loans have potentially been seen by other applicants on the SBA March 25. The SBA said only the disaster loan program was affected, not the paycheck protection program, which only started on April 3 and is managed by a separate system.

Carol Wilkerson, a spokesperson for the SBA, said in a statement that the agency informed the 7,913 homeowners whose information may have been disclosed and offered them a year of free credit monitoring. The agency immediately disabled the affected part of its system, Wilkerson said.

Business owners have had problems with the disaster loan website in the past. The site was closed for maintenance for several hours on March 16, and owners were unable to apply during that time. On March 29, the SBA relaunched its application for disaster loans and homeowners had to reapply. Many learned days or weeks later that they had to reapply.

The SBA also said it processed more than 755,000 disaster loan advances, $ 10,000 each and totaling nearly $ 3.3 billion on Monday. The advances are essentially grants. The agency also said it processed nearly 27,000 disaster loans totaling nearly $ 5.6 billion.

Business owners apply for disaster loans directly from the SBA website, www.sba.govunlike paycheck protection loans which are sought after from banks and then approved by the SBA.

Congress and President Donald Trump reached an agreement in principle on Tuesday to add $ 300 billion to the paycheck protection program, which reached its original credit of $ 349 billion last week after the SBA approved more a million loans. Thousands of have applications pending to be sent to the SBA for approval, or pending to apply.

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