Better Business Bureau of Acadiana is alerting residents to beware phone grant scams following numerous calls from concerned consumers.
According to residents, the calls appear to be coming from the (202) area code, which is in Washington D.C. and claiming the consumer “won” or was randomly selected to receive a $9,000 grant from “the federal government,” the U.S. Federal Reserve or other government agencies.
The scammers often have a foreign accent, state they are government workers and the grant money does not need to be paid back, but consumers must pay a fee or provide bank account numbers in order to receive the funds.
If banking or other personal information is provided, it is used to commit fraud or theft.
The most important fact to remember in determining whether a call or email concerning a grant is a scam is to remember that no one can be awarded a grant if they did not apply.
The federal government and private foundations do not select grant winners by random or because residents pay taxes on time. The grant process is generally long and very competitive and only those who apply are considered.
Listed below are sure signs a call or email concerning a grant is a scam:
- A caller or email notifies someone that they were randomly selected via email, regular mail or phone.
- Residents are told they received a “government grant” or “a grant from Washington D.C.” with no more specific details as to what government agency is actually awarding the money.
- Consumers have to pay an up-front fee to receive the grant money.
- People are told they won because they paid taxes, shopped at Wal-Mart or need money to repair their homes.
The truth is grants are not given for these reasons in this way and these are sure signs of a scam.
Grants to individuals also need prior approval by the Internal Revenue Service. It is generally left to non-profit organizations to assist people in repairing homes,paying utilities, etc.
BBB offers the following tips to avoid being taken by a grant scam:
- Watch out for phrases like "free grant money." Grants do not have to be repaid; thus there is no need to use the word "free."
- The federal government and private foundations do not usually give out grants for personal debt consolidation, or to pay for other personal needs. Grants are usually given only to serve a social good such as bringing jobs to an area, training under-employed youth, preserving historical sites or structures, etc.
- Be wary if you are asked to provide money up-front to an unknown company before the company will provide the services promised.
- If you are having financial problems, there are local non-profit credit counseling services which may be able to assist you with your problem at no charge.
Better Business Bureau works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.
BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.
Acadiana residents can now have BBB information in the palm of their hand with the official BBB Search app, a convenient, mobile BBB solution available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.The app can be found at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bbb-search-find-local-businesses/id440014505?mt=8.
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