Barry is the only name Linda Smith knows the man who is bringing her federal grant and accompanying Range Rover.
They talk for hours and hours about how this federal grant is not only going to change her life, but those of the foundation she’s setting up in eastern Idaho. Barry praises her big heart and generosity.
With deepest concern, he also tells her a few upfront processing fees she must be paid to complete the grant. Total amount about $20,000. Smith sent it off in a MoneyGram last week.
“He said the fees are for processing,” Smith says. “But, it’ll be worth it when I get the grant.”
Smith has never met Barry face to face. In fact, she’s only really talked to him by TTY – telephone translation services for deaf and hearing-impaired persons. See, Ms. Smith is deaf.
Grants are not easy to come by and there is always an in-depth process that applicants must go through before they are awarded anything. If you didn’t apply for a grant and you receive one of these calls, someone is trying to scam you.
Remember this about “government grants:”
- 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 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 cut 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.