Opportunities to receive a large sum of money for no work on your part should always raise a few flags. The FTC has been reporting recently on scammers who are calling people and identifying themselves as workers for government grant agencies.
The scammer lets the person on the phone know they are eligible for a few thousand dollars in government grants and will deposit that money into a bank account immediately. After they hand over their personal information of course…
Government Grant Telemarketing Scams
The FTC writes…
“Because you pay your income taxes on time, you have been awarded a $12,500 government grant! To get your free grant, simply give us your checking account information, and we will deposit the grant into your bank account!”
You may receive a message like this, where the caller claims to be from a government agency or some other organization with an official sounding name. Or you may see an ad that claims you will qualify to receive a “free grant” to pay for education costs, home repairs, home business expenses, or bills. In any case, the claim is the same: your application for a grant is guaranteed to be accepted, and you’ll never have to pay the money back.
Offers of “money for nothing” grants usually are scams, whether you hear about them on the phone or see them in your local paper, a national magazine, or a slick looking website.
The scam is rather simple, but it’s effective. Scammers are calling people and informing them that the victim is eligible for a free government grant to help with education costs, mortgages, home repairs or just bills in general. The scammer will then tell you that they need your banking information in order to directly deposit the grant money into your account.
Reports are going around that scammers are saying they need credit card information to process a “transaction fee” that is completely reversible once the grant money is deposited. This is all a scam to get as much personal information out of you as quickly as possible. Do not fall for it!
Information on real government grants can be found here: Grants.gov but like it says on their website, they do no offer personal financial assistance.
How to Avoid Grant Scams
The FTC has the following advice…
- 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. 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.
- Check the correct names of government agencies. Just because the caller says they’re from the “Federal Grants Administration” doesn’t mean that they are. There is no such government agency. Check your telephone directory.
- Take your time. There’s no rush. 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 to yourself. Don’t share it unless you are familiar with the company and know why the information is necessary.
- Eliminate telemarketing calls you don’t want by registering your number on the National Do Not Call Registry.
The biggest pressure tactic to be on the lookout for is number three. Don’t let a scammer bully you into thinking you’re going to lose out on a lot of free money if you don’t sign up RIGHT NOW. They want you to make a quick, irrational decision and before you have a chance to process what just happened, they’re running off with all of your personal information.
It’s more than sickening to hear that the people who need help the most are the ones being targeted by scammers. Stay educated and question everything that seems out of place to protect yourself.