“You’ve Won a Government Grant”

We’ve written about this before, but it always seems to come around again.  In fact, just yesterday, your BBB® received at least 3 phone calls from consumers who’ve been offered a grant usually amounting to thousands of dollars either for banking information, an advanced fee or both.  In return, the “grant” will be either directly deposited into their account or sent to them via mail or wire transfer.

Often these fraudsters will use generic names that sound official, like “Loyalty Grant,” or use the names of government agencies, like Health & Human Services. Yesterday, one of the names used was the National Endowment for the Humanities.  According to their website, “The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency that is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the U.S.”  They do provide grants to cultural institutions as well as individuals; however, in order to obtain a grant from the agency, you must first apply for it and be chosen to receive it.

In this particular consumer’s case, they received a call purporting to be from NEH. The consumer had allegedly been awarded a $40,000 grant, but in order to receive it, the consumer had to pay a fee of $600. 

If it isn’t obvious already, there is no $40,000 grant, and sending them the $600 will only result in the loss of your money and possibly your identity.

Here are a few of tips to help prevent you from losing money to a government grant scam:

Don’t give out your bank account information to anyone you don’t know

Don’t pay money for a “free” government grant. If you have to pay money to claim a “free” government grant, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “it isn’t a government grant and 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.”

Do online research.  Search for the name of the awarding agency or institution online and through bbb.org.  You may also want to check the list of government agencies on USA.gov.  Watch out for similar names.  If the name isn’t an exact, it probably isn’t the actual agency.

-If you determine that the name is an exact match, like in the above case, review the agency’s website. If they know their name is being used in a scam, they will most likely be reporting it there.  In the case of the National Endowment for the Humanities, their website does contain a press release that states, in relevant part: “NEH and its employees will never ask you to send money to receive a grant or other forms of financial assistance. Nor will NEH and its employees ever ask you to wire money or add money to a prepaid debit card to pay for associated processing or delivery fees.”

If you think you’ve been the victim of a government grant scam, report it to the FTC and your BBB.

For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/Evansville.

About Amanda 202 Articles
Amanda is the Director of Investigations & Information Services and is a regular contributor to the consumer education blog. She is one of our go-to colleagues for answering complex consumer inquires. Amanda also manages our charity reporting program.

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