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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Western Virginia
BBB Alert: Grant Scam Uses BBB Name
August 06, 2014

Roanoke, VA - Another government grant scam is hitting the area, but this time it’s using the Better Business Bureau name to appear legitimate.

Residents have reported to BBB they’ve received phone calls from individuals claiming to be the Virginia State government. The callers go on to say the resident has qualified for a grant from a BBB approved agency.

That’s news to the BBB.

“The Better Business Bureau does not endorse, recommend, or approve of any government or public agency involving the distribution of grant funds,” says Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of BBB Serving Western VA. “Individuals must apply for government funded grants; they are not awarded to people who have not applied.”

The “grant funds” are being awarded by these fraudsters because “you pay your bills on time and you pay your taxes” and are supposedly for between $4,000 and $8,000. One consumer in Basset, VA said the caller demanded her debit card or bank account number in order to deposit the funds. When she questioned this request she was told there was a 24-hour deadline to receive the funds. After she requested some form of proof, the caller got aggressive and hung up the phone.

How to protect yourself from 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.
  • The government does not give away grant funds for good financial behavior. The federal or state government will also send most correspondence through the mail. If someone calls claiming to be from the government offering you free grant funds, hang up the phone.
  • 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 www.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.
  • Start With Trust. Check out suspicious calls with your BBB at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501.

If you need more information, contact the BBB at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501. You can also visit www.bbb.org.  Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BBBWesternVA and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BBBWesternVA