Looking to cash in on government grants? BBB says think again

June 08, 2009

Do you think you are entitled to free money from the Canadian government? Better Business Bureau is cautioning consumers about a number of companies that offer “free” advice on how to get government grants.

Consumers have contacted the BBB about a number of emails and websites that offer access to federal grant money through the purchase of grant kits. One company, grantsmoney.com, has contacted consumers by email once they have registered on their website. What is supposed to be access to a kit on how to secure grant money is actually a monthly membership for $90 per month.

“Consumers are hearing political leaders talk about economic stimulus packages and there is the impression that the government is flooding the economy with money for consumers,” says BBB President and CEO Lynda Pasacreta. “In reality there is no easy access to grant money. Grants are typically for business owners or students and require qualification and are rigorous competitions. Grants are not to help individuals with debts.”

Social network sites like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter are the primary way consumers are finding out about these grant kits. Often online ads will point to blogs that appear to be written by everyday people who are sharing the secret of how they received thousands of dollars in grants from the government to pay off their debt.

The grantsmoney.com web site is for a company called Positive Thinking Management Ltd. which purports to be based in the United Kingdom. If consumers read the term listed on the website, the wording states that you “consent to exclusive jurisdiction and venue in the courts located in the united kingdom.” This stipulation makes it seem challenging for consumers who are seeking any recourse against the company.

Before paying any money for assistance in earning government grants, BBB offers the following advice:

• While it’s true that the Federal government does give out billions of dollars in grant money every year, most grants are given to help students pay for college or for specifically defined reasons such as for research or to businesses in particular industries.

• There’s no reason to pay for software or guides when applying for government grants. Such information is already available for free on the Service Canada website: www.servicecanada.gc.ca.

• If you are concerned about a suspicious advertisement that appears on the website you are visiting, report it to the website administrators.

• If you believe that you are a victim of fraud contact www.phonebusters.com