In recent weeks, the Grants.gov Support Center has seen a surge in calls relating to federal grant scams.
If you receive a call promising free government grant funding to start a business or to help pay your bills, hang up. The call is a scam. Continuing a conversation with a scammer may put your personal information at risk.
On this blog, we have published multiple articles about avoiding grant scams. Here are five tips culled from these posts explaining how to protect yourself and your finances from scam artists:
1. Do not trust your caller ID, even if it says “Grants.gov” or “Washington, D.C.”
Scammers can use caller ID spoofing technology to make it appear that an official government representative is calling you. Sometimes the caller will claim they are from a real or a made-up office, such as the “Agency of Government Grants”.
2. Never give out your banking, financial, personal or other information over the phone or email to someone you do not know.
Even if the caller promises you a $10,000 grant for just $190, do not give them your information or money. They are trying to scam you.
3. You must apply for a grant before you receive a grant.
If you did not apply for a grant from the federal government, you will not receive a grant. Legitimate federal grants require an extensive application process.
4. If the caller begins pressuring you for money, hang up.
Do not give in to the pressure, threats, or allure of quick money in exchange for personal information and/or money. Pressure tactics are a sure sign of a scam.
5. If the caller says you can pay with gift cards, hang up.
Do not buy someone a gift card in order to receive a grant. No legitimate grant-maker will require you to buy a gift card in order to receive a grant. This is clearly a scam.
If you think you’re a victim of a grant scam or fraud, call the FTC Fraud Hotline: 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). You may also contact the Health and Human Services (HHS) Fraud Hotline at 1-800-447-8477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.