So, being offered free money can be exciting, especially if it is coming from the federal government. You can imagine the many ways you could use those funds. You could use them to buy a home, invest in a business, or to pay off your bills or student loans. Hang on, you need to be very careful here. Yes, the government can and will provide grant funds, however there’s no such thing as easy money or free money, especially if you have not applied for it.
Actually, federal grants may be awarded to states or city governments, private organizations, educational groups, or individuals who have actually applied for funds. There is a grant application form that is required to process your eligibility. The U.S. government awards nearly $450 billion annually in Federal Assistance Agreements in the form of grants. This is done to help support community development programs and projects, fund research projects, and to promote the arts and social sciences.
However, these federal grant funds can be vulnerable to various types of scams. Scam artists have found many ways to potentially entice you be separated from your hard-earned money. All this, while leaving you with nothing in return. These claims of free government grants from the U.S. Government are used as part of asking and getting your personal information. This will include such things as your Social Security number, your bank account numbers and will possibly ask you to pay a processing fee. But instead of you getting a grant, the ultimate plan is to steal your identity, your money, or even both.
The Facts, Just The Facts
- The government will not telephone you or send you unsolicited letters or emails to offer a grant. If someone does contact you out of the blue and offers you a grant, it is a scam. To protect yourself, don’t ever provide your financial account numbers, your Social Security numbers, or any other personal information as a response to this kind an offer. Crooks phish for this information to enable them to steal victims’ money and down the road to impersonate the victim for other illegal purposes.
- Government grants will never require a fee of any kind. If it is a legitimate grant application, you may have to provide financial information to prove that you do qualify for a government grant. However, you will never have to pay a fee to get one.
- Government grants will require an application process. They are never given over the phone and they are never guaranteed to be issued. Applications for government grants are investigated to decide if they meet certain criteria and they will be awarded based on merit. If you didn’t actually apply for a government grant and someone is saying that you are receiving one, it is a scam.
- Government grants are made for a distinct purposes. They are not given just because someone may be a good taxpayer. Usually, government grants are awarded to cities, states, schools, and nonprofit organizations. It may be to help provide services or to fund different research projects. Grants to individuals are usually for such things as disaster relief or college expenses.
- Don’t be fooled by an official sounding name. Scammers that claim to provide or help get government grants will often invent an official sounding name or title for themselves and the company they represent. They can operate under many different names and phone numbers. Then they will take your money and leave town to start all over again.
- Beware of services that offer government grant information for a fee or request your personal information to provide it. Information about government grants and the other benefits they provide is free and you won’t have to give personal information to get it.
6 Things To Do To Protect Yourself from Scammers
Here are a few basic rules that the FTC advises can keep you from losing money to these Government Grant scams:
1. Don’t ever give out your bank account information to anyone you that you don’t know. Always keep your bank account information confidential.
2. Don’t pay any money for a free government grant. A real government agency will not ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant that you have already been awarded.
3. The Federal government and their employees will never ask people to use a prepaid debit card or to wire funds to pay for anything. It is very important to be careful. Prepaid debit cards and money transfers are just like sending cash. Once the scammer has it, you can’t and won’t get it back.
4. You should check the USA.gov Index of Government Agencies. You need to take the time to check the USA.gov site to verify the authenticity of the agency.
5. You need to take control of the phone calls you receive. You can help reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive by placing your telephone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. You can register online by visiting donotcall.gov. To register by phone, call 1-888-382-1222.
6. You can file a complaint with the FTC. If you think that you may have been a victim of a government grant scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC, or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357
Thanks very much for taking the time to read this article. I hope in some way it helps the reader or provides answers to questions. Please feel free to leave comment and/or questions below and I will be glad to respond. If you know of any other potential scams that I can expose, please leave the information in the Comments section and I will be glad to investigate.