Senator Michele Brooks is warning local residents after her office has received inquiries and complaints from persons targeted by a fraudulent grants scheme.
“People should be aware that no agency that awards grants will call or send e-mails soliciting money or requesting personal banking information. Those should be immediate red flags warning you of a likely scam,” Senator Brooks said. “Hang up or delete the e-mail. Remember the old adage, if something seems too good to be true – it probably is.”
The Federal Trade Commission offers a few basic rules that can keep consumers from losing money to grant scams:
- Don’t give out your bank account information to anyone you don’t know. Scammers pressure people to divulge their bank account information so that they can steal the money in the account. 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 names of agencies and foundations that award grants are available for free at any public library or on the Internet. 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 are from the “Federal Grants Administration” doesn’t mean it’s true. There is no such government agency.
- Phone numbers can deceive. Some con artists use Internet technology to disguise their area code in caller ID systems. Although it may look like they’re calling from Washington, DC, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
- 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 (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Michael Hengst, (717) 787-1322