Can You Get Free Government Grants?

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Yes, under very carefully controlled circumstances. You qualify for financial aid as a college student, for example, or you are a business owner trying to reach out to specific targeted groups.

The US Government does NOT give grants to little people like you and me to live our daily lives. It also does not give money to start a business, in direct contradiction to many of the “government grant” claims out there. (To get free money with no strings attached you have to be a huge investment bank with high-paid lobbyists. But I digress.)

But don’t take my word for it. Here it is from the maw of the beast:

But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, says that “money for nothing” grant offers usually are scams, whether you see them in your local paper or a national magazine, or hear about them on the phone.

Some Web sites out there will holler at you that government grants are widely available and easy to get. They even often claim that the government gives grants for starting businesses. This is a direct lie, according to the federal Small Business Administration:

Please Note that the U.S. Small Business Administration does not offer grants to start or expand small businesses, though it does offer a wide variety of loan programs. While the SBA does offer some grant programs, these are generally designed to expand and enhance organizations that provide small business management, technical, or financial assistance. These grants generally support non-profit organizations, intermediary lending institutions, and state and local governments.

Grant Every Day? Um…no

Enter the strange case of governmentgrantsearch.com. That’s the site that Kathryn, the reader from my last post on grants, tangled with and lost to the tune of $100+.

Why “strange case?” Because the site has some good information. The problem is the crap product it promotes: the “Grant Every Day” program. It advertises a “free” CD (+ shipping and handling) with all the information you need to start getting government grants. You can get your first check in as little as one week!

What the heck, right? Three bucks for info. I can handle that. But then I read the fine print and decided not to sign up. Holy Add-ons, Batman! Your “free” CD will cost you $90.89 if you are not careful. Every month.

Here is the fine print:

By submitting this form I am ordering the Grant Resource Information and trial membership. After the seven day trial I will be charged sixty eight thirteen a month thereafter if I do not cancel. I also agree to the fourteen day trial to SBA Connection for thirteen forty two and the twenty one day trial to Kind Remind for nine thirty four, should I choose not to cancel. I have read and agree to the PRIVACY POLICY and Terms & Conditions. Cancel any time by calling 1-800-235-1364 or 1-888-276-8105.

See the parts I bolded? Yeah, those are dollar amounts. Have you ever seen prices written out in words? I don’t think I ever have. In my humble opinion, there is only one reason to do it in the fine print: TO HIDE IT. The promoter knows you’ll scan the fine print, but won’t read it carefully. They don’t want to call attention to all the extras by putting $68.13 right there for you to catch.

And not only that, but these add-ons come completely out of the blue. NOWHERE does the page promoting the free CD mention that you are also signing up for a monthly paid membership (what for??) the “SBA Connection” (what the hell is that??), and “Kind Remind.”

This is deceptive, “gotcha” marketing at its worst. FREE CD! Only $2.95 shipping and handling! Then, hidden at the bottom of the page, lots of extra garbage and recurring charges.

But it gets worse. The Terms and Conditions state that the company can sell your information to whomever it wants, and that it can have its telemarketers call you, even if you have opted out of telemarketing:

By submitting personal information at the Website, you agree that such act constitutes an inquiry and/or application for purposes of the Amended Telemarketing Sales Rule (16 CFR §310 et seq.), as amended from time to time (the “Rule”). Notwithstanding that your telephone number may be listed at the Federal Trade Commission’s Do-Not-Call List, you give us the right to contact you via telemarketing in accordance with the Rule.

The Company may disclose, transfer, and sell Individual Information to entities affiliated with us at our discretion.

Click here to read a customer/victim’s complaint about “Grant Every Day.
And Ripoff Report has more.

Rules of the Road for Government Grants

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) recommends the following guidelines if you’re interested in government grants:

  • Don’t give out your bank account information to anyone you don’t know. Scammers pressure people to divulge their bank account information so that they can steal the money in the account. Always keep your bank account information confidential. Don’t share it unless you are familiar with the company and know why the information is necessary.
  • Don’t pay any money for a “free” government grant. If you have to pay money to claim a “free” government grant, it isn’t really free. A real government agency won’t ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant that you have already been awarded — or to pay for a list of grant-making institutions. The names of agencies and foundations that award grants are available for free at any public library or on the Internet. The only official access point for all federal grant-making agencies is www.grants.gov.
  • Look-alikes aren’t the real thing. Just because the caller says he’s from the “Federal Grants Administration” doesn’t mean that he is. There is no such government agency. Take a moment to check the blue pages in your telephone directory to bear out your hunch — or not.
  • Phone numbers can deceive. Some con artists use Internet technology to disguise their area code in caller ID systems. Although it may look like they’re calling from Washington, DC, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
  • Take control of the calls you receive. If you want to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive, place your telephone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. To register online, visit www.donotcall.gov. To register by phone, call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the phone number you wish to register.
  • File a complaint with the FTC. If you think you may have been a victim of a government grant scam, file a complaint with the FTC online at www.ftc.gov, or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Sadly, for you and me, there’s no such thing as free money. Don’t fall for the free government grant claims.

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12 Comments

    1. Yes! Someone tried to get me believe his scam degrading plan.
      Name of person over the phone Mr. Dan from Instructor Grant company. He said “This call will be recorded for safety response..
      He tied to convince me to give him my credit card # and insited sevral times. He said “ALBERTA, YOU QUALIFY FOR A GOV GRANT.” When I aked him for his office address and phone # he got a little out of his silly circle game as he said “I want to help you, your package will be shipped once you give me your credit number you will be getting to you soon.
      The number he gave me is 1-888-276-8105.
      I checked this number on google, guess what? – check it out for yourself.you will see that your writing on this topic is “SUPER”

      Thank you for this information on the scamming.
      Alberta

    2. I have seen these ads everywhere I go. I really don’t believe that you can get anything like this for free. You will probably have to pay it back at some point with inflated interest or you will have to pay enormous fees to get the application accepted.

    3. ahh, to get to get these “free grants” goto your .gov websites for REAL information. I’ve gotten them before. Yes they are free. They are mainly for business start-ups.

      And if you don’t get a grant, they’ll give you a loan with the terms you’ll need to pay it back when you Reach something insane like 1,000,000 units (they make it so it will be impossible for you to meet the terms so you’ll never have to pay it back :).

    4. […] I made sure my NoScript Firefox extension was running correctly and clicked the link. It took me to a familiar place: Free Grant Toolbox. […]

    5. I have seen these free gov grants all over the net recently.

    6. I just wanted to say Thank you for putting up a site that tells the truth of government grants, I had started looking online and did read the fine print also! I couldn’t believe what was in there, it also mentions that I will pay for the court fees if I decided to take these guys to court!!

      Thanks for your website that confirmed my doubts and hopefully others will come across it as well.

    7. i have try for weeks you buy the cd then they want more i am thinking that all of this is a scam

    8. Roy, check your credit card account. They probably already took more.

    9. FGATEAM IS A SCAM I GAVE THEM 375 FOR A GRANT WRITER AND MY MONEY WENT TO PANAMA

    10. I just want to say thank-you, for the truth! I knew it was too good to be true, sadly!!! I’m just glad that there are a few honest people out there to help us mislead people…lol, that’s a bunch… I need to hold on to what money I do have.

    11. How did you get your grant Brad.. I’ve wanted to start my small business for long time. A little help from gov would be very nice

    12. I have foolishly fallen victim to the “once in a lifetime, free federal grant” scam just yesterday and unfortunately didn’t find this before I did. Got fooled by the phone calls with the authentic seeming phone numbers.

      In the morning I will call the FTC to report it (they’re closed at the time of this posting) but was wondering, does anyone know of a possibility of recovering the money I’ve lost? It’s not an extraordinarily large amount, but it would still be nice to recover some of it if possible. Any advice is welcomed! Thank you!

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