Bank of America

Biden Administration Must Review Bank Of America PPP Loan Program For Racial Bias

The PPP Loan Program is now in its second-draw status, and the loan forgiveness process is under way. My firm, Zennie62Media, received a first PPP Loan last year, but only after a roller-coaster process that started with Bank of America restricting PPP Loan access to those who had credit cards with the bank, even though my firm Zennie62Media, had a business bank account.

Then, Bank of America representatives at the Fayetteville, Georgia branch told me to sign up for the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. So, I did, and as it happened, the site crashed. Remember, this was March, and before the Payroll Protection Program even started. I tried again, received a confirmation page, and then nothing for a week.

While I was waiting for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), news about the Payroll Protection Program Loans emerged, and so I went to the local Bank of America branch in Fayetteville, again. They told me to watch for their emails, and so I did.

Once that PPP Loan application email arrived, I applied, and in it, they asked you to add the $10,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) I expected to receive to the total amount of loss I was declaring, and so I did that. Then, Bank of America said they were restricting the PPP Loans to bankers who had an established line of credit. Horrors.

That lasted for 48 hours. A few days later, I went back to the same Bank of America branch, and said that I did not receive any news about my PPP Loan. The person I talked to encouraged me to apply for the loan, again. So I did, and as they say, if at first you don’t succeed, try again – the application went through and I received confirmation. The major difference this time was that Bank of America set up a special online portal that I was to insert all of my documents in.

That means Bank of America had ample time to review my application and flag it for any problems or issues. I mean they asked you three times, if you had a felony. They were clearly trying to weed out anyone who might be black, considering the giant rate of false-reporting cases we face. The number of times the set of “crime” questions was asked was, in itself, criminal, or should have been.

So, I get the $23,750 (yes, that’s all of the total), use it to pay Zennie62Media’s staff and talent, and then in October, Bank of America sends an email stating, well, this blog entry I made explains it:

Bank Of America is not being a good actor in the Payroll Protection Program. In the case of Zennie62Media and its rare-for-a-black-owned-firm-because-Bank-Of-America-wasn’t-trying-to-go-and recruit us PPP Loan of a mere $23,750 (compared to the average PPP loan size of $113,000), the bank, after months of elapsed time starting May 4, 2020, is now claiming that my firm received a completed Economic Injury Disaster Loan of $10,000, before the PPP program loan.

Complete bullcrap.

While the EIDL was applied for twice, the SBA never confirmed the loan, let alone completed the process to register it. I even called SBA about the matter, only to be faced with a constantly clogged phone system, and a computer website who’s webpage literally reset itself due to what appears to be some malfunctioning JavaScript code, thus dumping the info I inputed. And that this was happening during the initial panic surrounding The Pandemic made the entire process painful, even though I was determined to come away with what my firm needed: a PPP Loan sized to our needs.

The way the Bank of America / SBA PPP Application was written, one could mark that they were eligible to receive an EIDL. Indeed, the rule language back then during the late part of the month of March 2020 was that the EIDL was also for the Coronavirus problem. So, merging both was both logical and it seemed expected by the Small Business Administration.

Now, Bank of America said I had to have Zennie62Media pay back the $10,000 portion because the bank believes, and with zero proof because there is none, that I already got the $10,000. No.

I called and talked to the fellow on the other side of the Bank of America department behind the notice, and reminded him that Bank of America not only set up the provision to combine the EIDL with the PPP Loan, but never told me there was a problem. In fact, Bank of America was rushing me to get my PPP Loan application in! As I said before, the Bank of America representative I called agreed that they did not handle PPP loan processing properly the first time, out. Perhaps as a result of my conversation, or the first blog post, or both, Bank of America posted these updated rules:

The Economic Aid Act repealed the deduction of EIDL Advances from loan forgiveness amounts. According to guidance from the SBA:

The SBA will no longer deduct EIDL Advances from forgiveness amounts remitted to lenders, effective December 29, 2020
For those loans where SBA has already deducted an EIDL Advance from a forgiveness remittance submitted to a lender, the SBA will automatically remit a reconciliation payment to that lender for the previously-deducted EIDL Advance amount, plus interest through the remittance date
Bank of America will apply any reconciliation funds received from the SBA due to a previously-deducted EIDL Advance to the balance of the impacted PPP loan and communicate updated balance and payment information to the client
To the extent you have repaid your outstanding PPP, which included a previously-deducted EIDL Advance amount, Bank of America will refund you this amount upon receipt of reconciliation funds received from the SBA

Now, Bank of America is supposed to tell me what my “second draw’ limit is. But they have not done that, and when I press the link to a page that’s suppose to give me information on the status of my PPP, I got this:

Unable to proceed.

We are sorry, we can not complete your request at this time. If you think you received this message in error, try the link provided in your email again.

Then, after I received an email on January 19th to sign in to my “Business Advantage 360” account to apply for the second draw PPP Loan, and so I do, and discover this:

Based on our records, you are not currently eligible to apply for a second draw Paycheck Protection Program Loan with Bank of America

You may be receiving this message for one or more of the following reasons:

The online banking ID (and associated tax ID) you are using is not tied to the original PPP loan that you received. If so, please try a different user name and password; or call us at 866.457.4892
You have not yet received the email inviting you to apply, which means we are continuing to review the documentation you submitted in connection with your first PPP loan application. We will send you a notification once the review process is complete, at which time you will be able to access our PPP application and apply for a “second draw” PPP loan, if you so choose.
You haven’t received a PPP loan at Bank of America. If you received your first PPP loan from another financial institution, consider contacting them for the second draw application. If you haven’t received a PPP loan, meet the SBA’s criteria, and wish to apply at Bank of America, click here.
If you believe you received this message in error, please try a different user name and password; or call us at 866.457.4892.

If you don’t meet the qualifications to apply through Bank of America, please contact your primary business lender or visit U.S Treasury’s Website on Assistance for Small Businesses.

So, I called, once again, to straighten out this matter, and discover that Bank of America has my records scattered, and that’s based on the number of times I was asked to apply, and apply, for the program, and because of the number of changes, and website screw-ups both Bank of America and the Small Business Administration were responsible for, at the time.

The person I talked to today said I was a “unique case”. I said I don’t think so. I am probably one of the few people who didn’t give up and kept pounding away to get Bank of America and the Small Business Administration to handle this problem.

President Biden Must Issue An Executive Order To Stop Lenders From Mishandling PPP Loan Applications

The Biden Administration can help solve this problem with one executive order. The order should read that banks processing PPP Loans can’t make up their own policy for distributing loans or collecting on them, outside of official SBA action. And that the only concern a lender should have is if the PPP Loan money disbursed was not used to hire additional people. Moreover, the executive order should prohibit lenders like Bank of America from making up its own rules that cause it to make money from the PPP Program. Zennie62Media is proud to report that the PPP Loan money was used to engage independent contractor vloggers, some who were and are disabled.

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