A call claiming you’ve qualified for a government grant = a scam!

Last week, BBB offices around the country received a number of calls from consumers reporting a suspicious government grant offer.

Consumers are alerted by phone that they qualify for a government grant.  The qualifications seem a bit fuzzy but the caller always asks if there is a Western Union nearby.  In order to collect the grant, the consumers are told that they need to send a rather large sum of money to some unknown individual in Washington, DC.

This is a well-known telemarketing scam designed to trick consumers into paying a fee in order to collect a much larger sum in the form of a government grant.

Government grants are out there but securing one can be a complicated process.   Don’t fall for this scam. Keep these tips in mind if someone tells you you’ve qualified for a government grant:

  • If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
  • Protect your personal information. Never give personal information, including Social Security, bank or credit card numbers, over the phone to an unknown person. Always research the company first at www.bbb.org.
  • The Government will not ask for money. The government won’t require you to pay an advance fee before you can collect the grant money, because this practice is illegal.
  • Grants don’t arrive unannounced on your doorstep. You won’t get a grant without applying for it first.
  • Get information in writing and have them mail, fax, or email it to you.
  • Never wire money. Wired money cannot be traced and once it’s wired it’s gone forever.
  • Do your research. You can research, for free, information on government grant programs at the U.S. government Web site, http://www.grants.gov.