COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Lawmakers recently introduced Senate Bill 98 to further protect small businesses against fraud and identity theft, as they said cases are growing across the country.
Small business owners, like Lisa Boyle who owns Chocolate Café in Columbus, said the legislation is overdue.
“Better late than never,” Boyle said. “Sometimes it takes a while for people to understand how detrimental these things can be.”
Boyle said, as a small business owner, she worries about things like fraud and identity theft regularly.
“There are just really insidious ways to take advantage or to act like somebody else or present yourself as something else,” Boyle said.
Senator Michael Rulli (R-Salem), with the support of Secretary of State Frank Larose, introduced S.B. 98 to make it both easier and quicker to report scams and fraud and to crack down on potential schemes, that sometimes go unnoticed.
“They’re going underneath the radar for five, 10, 15, $20,000 either in credit, credit cards, or small business loans,” Rulli said. “And by the time we catch them, our businesses are suffering.”
“For small business, $10 is everything a lot of times,” Boyle said. “So, if you hit someone for 5,000, that can be a paycheck for one of their key employees, that is a lot of money.”
When small business schemes and fraud are caught right now Rulli and LaRose said the process to report issues and resolve them is lengthy.
“That doesn’t help small business owners that now have to hire an attorney, go through a lengthy process and meanwhile the scam artist could be getting away with whatever their scheme might be,” LaRose said.
This bill also aims to get out in front of some of those possible schemes, like letters that look like they’re from the state, saying a business owes money.
“The financial cost might be one thing, but the time, the heartache, the frustrating hours he spent away from growing a business is part of the concern as well,” LaRose said.
“You can’t wait six months to get back the money that you’ve lost,” Boyle said. “I mean that’s a lifetime.”
The bill is still in early stages but will likely have its first committee hearing at the Statehouse within the next few weeks.