Governor's Office of Consumer Protection Warns of Grant Scams
ATLANTA, GA – The Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection has seen a resurgence of complaints about government grant scams. In the typical scenario the consumer receives a call from an official-sounding agency who informs the caller that he or she is eligible for a government grant in the amount of several thousand dollars. Consumers may be given an explanation for their “eligibility”, such as the fact that they have paid their rent or their income taxes on time. The caller then asks the consumer to wire several hundred dollars to cover processing fees or insurance. In some cases, consumers may be asked to provide their bank account information so that the grant money can be directly deposited to the consumer’s account. Since this is a scam, the caller takes the consumer’s money, and the consumer never receives the promised grant money.
Another variation on this scam is a caller who guarantees a large government grant in exchange for several thousand dollars for writing the grant application.
Remember that legitimate grant-writing companies almost never telemarket, send unsolicited fax advertisements, or advertise by bulk mail to the general public. Consumers should also note that no one can “guarantee” that an applicant will receive a grant. Government grants are usually aimed at the needy, educational institutions, or specialists who can provide assistance to the government. A list of information about government grants and how to apply can be found at www.grants.gov, a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Additional ways to protect yourself from a grant scam are:
- Never give out your bank account or financial information to people you don’t know, especially unsolicited telemarketers.
- Never pay money to receive a “free” grant. Real government agencies won’t ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant that you have already been awarded, nor will they charge you money for a list of grants you can apply for.
- Just because a caller claims to be from a legitimate sounding organization doesn’t mean it’s true. Scammers may even use “spoofing” software to falsify the telephone number that appears on your caller ID. The call might appear to be from Washington, DC, when, in fact, the caller could be anywhere in the world.
If you believe you have been the victim of a government grant scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or by calling 1-877- FTC-HELP.
For more information, contact Shawn Conroy, Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection, at 404-656-3790.