The Federal Trade Commission, which is the agency in charge of protecting consumers in the nation from business practices that are dishonest and unethical, has noted that many of the free grant offers are usually scams. More often than not, the scammers will take out these ads in various sources along with toll-free numbers for consumers to call where they offer more information. Most scammers employ the same tactics are a telemarketer, using fake company names and titles to lie about the products they have available. Some even claim to call from government offices and agencies like the Federal Grants Agency. After asking a few questions, they let you know that you’re “qualified” only leading up to swindling. The FTC, or Federal Trade Commission, warns consumers that any call of this nature is not from a federal agency since they would never contact their consumers over the phone.
Once the scammer has informed the consumer about being qualified for the fake grant, they then ask for banking information where they claim to be depositing the funds into their account. They might ask for things like credit card info or for the consumer to wire money to cover a processing fee that doesn’t exist. Their methods are all different, but there is one thing you can count on. The ones who share their banking information or wire money to the companies never see that money, even with the promises.
Grant scams are common, and to avoid becoming a victim of one of these scams, the Federal Trade Commission has advised consumers to do a few things as a precaution:
1. You should never share your banking information or credit card information with anyone. The operators of these scams are skilled at convincing consumers that they are legitimate, and they can get people’s information out of them easily. Unless you know the company, know they are legitimate, and know what the money will be used for, you should never give away your information.
2. You should never pay for any of these “free grants.” There are no companies, including government agencies, that will charge you for anything labeled free. They will also never charge you to process any grant. If you want a list of the grant-awarding agencies that are legitimate, you can find a list for free at your local library or the grants website, www.grants.gov.
3. You should always check for the name of the agency in question. Scammers can come up with names that sound official, but they do not exist. The best way to determine if the company is legitimate is by checking on the internet or through the blue pages of the phone books. Then, take the list and compare the name of the agency calling you to check for the truth.
4. You should note that phone numbers can be disguised. The technology of this day gives scammers the opportunity to make their phone number appear on any called I.D. as if the call is coming from any location in the world. You might think it is coming from the capital, but it is truly coming from anywhere.
5. You should streamline your phone calls. In other words, you should decrease the number of telemarketer calls you get. The way to do this registers your phone number with the Do Not Call List. You can even block unwanted calls through various cell phone apps.
6. You should contact the FTC should you be the victim of any of these scams. They allow you to file complaints no matter where the scam began. They will register your complaint through a database for international law enforcement to help catch the ones doing the scamming. This database is called the Consumer Sentinal, and it can be found online.