Offers of free money from government grants are scams. Someone might offer you a grant to pay for education, home repairs, home business expenses, or unpaid bills. But they’re all scams. Here’s how to avoid a government grant scam, and how to report it.
How Government Grant Scammers Try To Trick You
- Scammers reach you in lots of ways. You might see ads online for (fake) government grants. Scammers might call you, but use a fake caller ID so it looks like they’re calling from a federal or state government agency. Some send texts or emails, saying you may qualify for free money from the government.
- Scammers make big promises. They might say you can use this so-called free money or grant to pay for education, home repairs, home business expenses, household bills, or other personal needs.
- Scammers try to look official. Besides faking their phone number, they’ll pretend they’re with a real government agency like the Social Security Administration. Or, they’ll make up an official-sounding name of a government agency, like the Federal Grants Administration, which doesn’t exist.
- Scammers ask you for information or money. Government grant scammers might start by asking for personal information, like your Social Security number, to see if you “qualify” for the grant (you will). Then they’ll ask for your bank account information — maybe to deposit “grant money” into your account or to pay for up-front fees. But sometimes, scammers will ask you to pay those fees with a gift card, cash reload card, money transfer, or with cryptocurrency. And that’s always a scam.
- Scammers try to be convincing. They might even promise a refund if you aren’t satisfied. But that’s a lie. Once you give your bank account information, or pay fees, your money will disappear. And, you’ll never see the grant they promise.
What To Know About Government Grants
- The government won’t get in touch out of the blue about grants. It won’t call, text, reach out through social media, or email you. It won’t offer you free government grants of any kind, much less grants to pay for home repairs, medical costs, or other personal needs. Real government grants require an application, and they’re always for a very specific purpose.
- Never share your financial or personal information with anyone who contacts you. Government agencies will never call, text, message you on social media, or email to ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number. In fact, no matter who they say they are, don’t give out that information. Once a scammer has your information, they can steal money from your account, or your identity.
- Don’t pay for a list of government grants — and don’t pay any up-front fees. The only place you can find a list of all available federal grants is at grants.gov. And that list is free. No government agency will ever contact you to demand that you pay to get a grant. And no government agency will ever ask you to pay with a gift card, cash reload card, by money transfer, or with cryptocurrency. Not for a grant, and not ever.
- If you paid a scammer, act quickly. If you think you’ve sent money to a government impersonator like one of these grant scammers, contact the company you used to send the money. Tell the gift card, money transfer, or cryptocurrency company that it was a fraudulent transaction. Then ask them to reverse it.
What To Do If You Paid A Scammer
Scammers often ask you to pay in ways that make it tough to get your money back. No matter how you paid a scammer, the sooner you act, the better. Learn more about how to get your money back.
Report Government Grant Scams
When you report a scam, the FTC can use the information to build cases against scammers, spot trends, educate the public, and share data about what is happening in your community. If you spotted a scam, report it here