BBB says: Grant scams promise relief, lead to more headaches
Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is warning the public about grant scams.
Recently BBB received a report from a consumer who stated they were contacted by The Washington D.C. Grant Department about being approved for a $7,000 grant. Contacts like this are not uncommon and such notices are usually accompanied by requests to pay processing fees. BBB reminds people that federal grants are not issued for personal use, but are intended for institutions and nonprofits to carry out projects with a public purpose.
“This is a scam that regrettably never goes out of vogue,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “And the people who carry it out are good at what they do; they know what to say and how to say it, which is why everyone needs to be careful.”
Usually these grant “notifications” come via the phone, but people may also receive them through mail and email. These notices usually claim to be from the Federal Grants Administration or some other phony — though official-sounding agency. Individuals who receive them are told they’re either eligible for or have been awarded a government grant.
Once the grant has been dangled in front of the unlucky recipients, they’re usually told they need to pay processing fees. In some cases, these fees are requested via prepaid debit cards; in others, people are asked to provide banking or credit card information. However, there are no processing fees for federal grants. Furthermore, no government agency will make phone calls; send email or letters to solicit money or personal banking information from a potential grant recipient.
Visit grants.gov to obtain information on federal grants and applications.
Never give out bank account information to a stranger. Scammers pressure people to divulge their bank account information so that they can steal funds. Always keep bank account information confidential.
People who think they’ve been a victim of a government grant scam should file a complaint with the FTC online, or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP, which is 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.
If personal banking information was provided to anyone claiming to be associated with a federal grant agency, call the bank immediately to prevent unauthorized account access.