“You are eligible for FREE grants! Just fill out this quick application: First & Last Name, Home Address, Birthdate, Social Security Number (SSN), and Bank Account & Routing Numbers to receive the grant” — that is a grant scam.
You answer a phone call: “Hi, this is Greg McCaffrey from the Federal Bureau of Grant Awards. Based on your tax records, you qualify for a federal grant of $5,300. You just have to pay the service fee of $125 via wire transfer” — that is a grant scam.
Unfortunately, a lot of people attempt to scam us out of our hard-earned money, and they often use the guise of government grants. The specific tactics, questions, and circumstances scam artists use will continue to change, so we have to remain aware and cautious. How do we avoid being a victim of a scam?
Three Tips to Avoid Scams:
- Never give out your personal information, especially your SSN or banking information, unless you know the organization asking for it and that they have a legal right to ask for it.
- Never pay for a grant—that’s not how legitimate federal grants work. Learn about the real grant process here.
- If the caller or messages are pressuring you for money or information, it is a scam. End the communication and do not give them anything else.
Trends in Grant Scams
We have seen a recent surge in phone calls requesting that people purchase gift cards and provide the card numbers over the phone in order to receive a “grant.” They are lying; there is no grant.
Social engineering is another very common, and unfortunately effective, tactic scammers have used. Social engineering is the process of creating a network of fake social media accounts, pages, and profiles that make the person or organization appear legitimate.
This can be tough to sort out, so take the time to research the organizations online. Don’t be embarrassed to ask your friends or colleagues what they think before you share any personal information or agree to make a payment.
In the end, this is what the scammers are after – your personal information and your money. So, if you follow the tips above, you can protect yourself from many of these scams.