By Carl Ringwall
The internet seems full of ads for free grants for just about any purpose imaginable - education, home repair, or starting a business, just to name a few. The ads go on to say that the money received from the grant does not need to be repaid, which makes the offers even more enticing.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that grant offers like these are scams more often than not. These ads are placed by scam artists in classifieds and on the internet, often with a web site to visit or a toll free number to call to claim the grant money. Other government grant scams are more direct with someone calling you to say you may be eligible for a government grant.
Whether it is someone calling you to say that you may be eligible for a grant, or you calling the toll free number from an ad, telephone government grant scams tend to work the same way.
-They will congratulate you an being eligible for a grant
-They will ask for identifying information, like your social security number, in order to check your eligibility
-When they tell you that you have qualified, they may ask for banking information in order to charge a one time processing fee or to directly deposit the funds
-Their "money back guarantee" will have conditions that are nearly impossible to meet
-Instead of one application, they will send you a list of grantors that you have to contact yourself
Web Site Scams
Watch out for web sites that provide bogus grant information. A government grant scam web site is likely to have:
-Out dated grants
-After paying an access fee, an unorganized list of grant programs with no assistance filing the applications
-No customer service or contact information
-Poor quality web sites with broken links
Facts About Legitimate Government Grants
Government grants are usually awarded to groups or individuals who are using the money to help their communities, not to individuals for personal use. The government also does not charge a processing fee for their grants as their services are funded by tax dollars. Another key difference between legitimate government grants and scams is that you will not be asked to provide personal information over the phone.
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