Scammers and con artists have been around since the dawn of time.
Society does its best to prevent them. However, there always seems to be a scam out there ripping off good people. The bad guys will try just about anything they can think of as a means to deceive the public.
Sadly, this includes the area of “government grants.”
There have been (and continue to be) thieves who use the bait of “government grants” to trick unsuspecting folks into thinking they are applying for a grant, when all they are really doing is giving their personal information to a criminal which can then be used to steal their money and/or their identity.
The best way to make sure this does not happen to you is to educate yourself so you can spot a fake grant offer and avoid the pain of being robbed.
Here are 6 signs of a scam to watch out for as you search for legitimate government grants.
1. The service wants to charge you a fee for government grant information
As you search online for information, you may come across a website that asks you to pay a fee to receive information on government grants. This is a huge red flag because the government offers this information for free. You also do not need to give out personal information (SSN, DOB, etc.) to receive government grant information, either.
2. The person offering you help has a long, impressive-sounding title.
Con artists may tell you over the phone or say on a web page they are “chief information officer of U.S. federal grants” or some other preposterous title. Be wary if the person’s title sounds overblown. And listen carefully, the title may change the more you talk to them! That’s a big red flag to run away.
3. Government grants are rarely given to individuals just because they are “good citizens.”
If you are seeking a government grant for college expenses or some sort of disaster relief, that will work. But the government doesn’t just hand out grants to people because they are nice, paid their taxes or don’t have a criminal record. Grants are usually given to cities, states, nonprofits and schools—places where the grant money is used for research purposes or providing a service. If someone is offering you an individual grant for no specific reason, watch out!
4. The grant doesn’t require an application process.
As soon as you are told you are getting a government grant without first applying, you know you are being scammed. Receiving a government grant requires an application that must then be reviewed and approved. Don’t believe it if you are being offered a grant over the phone or email.
5. You are asked to pay for a government grant.
Legitimate government grants do not require a fee to receive. Some applications will ask about your financial situation to see if you qualify for the governmental grant, but there is no “fee.”
6. You get a spammy email, telephone call or unsolicited letter in the mail offering you a grant.
Whenever someone gets contacted unexpectedly with a grant offer, you can be sure it’s a scam. Grant providers do NOT do this. You have to go to them first. So if someone contacts you first about a grant, please do not give them any of your personal information.
“Phishing” is a form of theft that has been around since before the internet. The telephone has been used by crooks pretty much since it was invented by Thomas Edison. Do not let the crooks steal your identity or rob you blind.
Information to Keep You Safe and Secure
Government grants do a lot of good in this world, despite the crooks out there who are trying to manipulate the system for personal gain. This is against the law.
During your quest for a government grant, if you do come across something that looks suspicious, please consider reporting the scam to the Council of the Inspector General on Integrity & Efficiency.