BBB Warns: Don’t Fall for ‘Free Grants’ Offers

  
     
April 12, 2009
It’s not too late! You, too, can benefit from the president’s plan to stimulate the economy! Millions in free government grants are awaiting your request! All you have to do is …

Sound too good to be true? As the late Paul Harvey would say, here’s the rest of the story.

Ever since the economic stimulus package was signed off by President Obama, scam artists far and wide have jumped at the opportunity to boost their own ill-gotten profits via online ads and e-mails promising to help you tap into this veritable gold mine.

All of us have been targeted with e-mails touting huge government grants to be had for the asking and it’s hard not to miss ads promising “free grants on popular Web sites such as Facebook.

You may have even been tempted to respond. Nationwide, thousands upon thousands have just that. In the last two months, the Better Business serving northern Colorado and greater Wyoming has received more than 298 complaints and 1,682 inquiries regarding companies offering help getting stimulus grand funds.

What kind of help do they offer? Many will send you a “free” CD packed with information on available grants and how to apply for them. One local consumer thought the $1.99 shipping fee for a “free CD” was minimal for what he would receive in return: grants worth thousands. What he failed to read was the fine print that stated that by ordering the CD, he was agreeing to a monthly membership fee.

When he reconsidered his actions and called the company, which has several aliases, he couldn’t reach a live voice, only a recording.

So he asked his credit-card company to remove the charge. Six days later another charge, a $94.81 “membership fee,” appeared on his statement. His only recourse was to cancel his credit card and request a new one.

This particular grant scam has many different disguises and is not always tied into the stimulus package. Some offer information on “free” education grants, business grants and even personal grants — all for a minimum shipping charge and monthly membership fee.

While it’s true that the Federal government awards billions of dollars in grants, most are designated to help students pay for college, to help businesses in specific industries and for research. Grant information — available at no cost whatsoever and with no strings attached — is available at www.grants.govwww.studentaid.ed.govwww.govbenefits.gov and www.sba.gov.

Before providing bank or credit card information to any business you’re considering doing business with, request a BBB Business Reliability Report at wynco.bbb.org.

Start With Trust. Check out the BBB blog and find reliable consumer tips, information and alerts at wynco.bbb.org or call 470-484-1348 or 800-564-0371.