“Congratulations! You’re eligible for a free government grant. All you need to do is provide your checking account information so that the money can be wired directly into your account,” the caller says. Not so fast.
How the Scam Works:
It starts like most phishing phone calls. You receive a phone call or voicemail informing you that you’re the lucky recipient of a government grant. The calls generally come from a number with a (202) area code, suggesting that they originate in Washington D.C. On the other end, the caller claims to be from a legitimate sounding source, such as the “Federal Grant Association” (a non-existent organization) and wants your checking account information so that the money can be wired directly into your account.
This classic government grant scam has been around for years and has remained a threat because most people are not familiar with the grant system and procedure, and consequently are not likely to see through fraudster inquiries.
How to Spot a Government Grant Scam:
- Don’t give out your bank account information to anyone you don’t know. Always keep your bank account information confidential. Don’t share it unless you are familiar with the company and know why the information is necessary.
- 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. A real government agency won’t ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant that you have already been awarded – or to pay for a list of grant-making institutions. The only official access point for all federal grant-making agencies is grants.gov.
- Look-alikes aren’t the real thing. Just because the caller says they’re from the “Federal Grants Administration” doesn’t mean that they are. There is no such government agency. And although it may look like they’re calling from Washington, DC, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
- Take control of the calls you receive. If you want to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive, place your telephone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. To register online, visit donotcall.gov.
- File a complaint with the FTC. If you think you may have been a victim of a government grant scam, file a complaint with the FTC online, or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP.
For More Information
To find out more about scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper.