On Your Side: Fake grant offers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Don't take the bait if someone contacts you out of the blue about free grant money. A warning from the Federal Trade Commission that "money for nothing" grant offers are a scam.

Government grant scams show up in different forms, sometimes as an ad in your inbox, or by snail mail.  What people are talking about right now is a call from somebody claiming you qualify to receive a free grant to pay for education costs.

801-899-9303. That number reported to 12 On Your Side reveals a list of testimonials in a Google search from people who answered a call supposedly from a government agency or an official sounding company rep who says their application for free grant money for their education was approved and all we need is your checking information so the money can be deposited into your bank account.

I called that number and got exactly what I expected, a recording and an invitation to leave a message after the beep.

Don't leave a message. Don't try to follow up if you get the call.

The FTC says money for nothing is a scam and once they get your banking information they will wipe out your account. Scammers may even ask you to deposit a check and wire back a portion to cover a fee.  When the bank discovers the check is fraudulent you have to pay back the money.

FCC rules to protect your money include:

  • Keep your bank account information confidential.  Don't give out personal information to strangers.
  • If you have to pay for a free government grant, it's not free.
  • A real government agency won't ask you to pay any fees for a grant you've been awarded.
  • Phone numbers can deceive.  Internet technology can disguise the caller's area code in caller ID systems.  It may look like they're calling from Washington, D.C.  when they could be calling from anywhere in the world.

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