KLAMATH COUNTY, Ore. – If you suddenly get a call out of the blue from someone saying you’ve been awarded a government grant, it may be a scam that’s been reported locally.
Someone claiming to work with mygovernmentgrants.com will cold call residents and tell them they qualify for a $9,000 grant. The caller often knows the name and other information of the person they’re talking to, making them seem more legitimate. But before you get your “grant,” you’ll have to do something for the caller. This can range from divulging personal information, such as driver’s license or bank account numbers, to paying a $150 “processing fee” before you can get your money.
Government officials want to remind the public grant money isn’t given at random. They’re earned through and application process by businesses and other organizations, not given away to individuals for personal gain.
The Federal Trade Commission said these types of scams typically target elderly individuals. The FTC provided the following tips to avoid losing money in “government 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 www.grants.gov.
- Look-alikes aren’t the real thing. Just because the caller says he’s from the “Federal Grants Administration” doesn’t mean that he is. There is no such government agency. Take a moment to check the blue pages in your telephone directory to bear out your hunch — or not.
- 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.
- Take control of the calls you receive. If you want to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive, place your telephone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. To register online, visit donotcall.gov. To register by phone, call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the phone number you wish to register.
- 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.