As the saying goes: "Buyer Beware". If you see ads claiming you qualify to receive a "free grant" for education, to start a home business or to payoff unpaid bills, be wary.
Scam artists will claim your grant application is guaranteed to be accepted and approved, and you never have to repay the money. But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that these grant offers are often a scam. The grant isn't free, nor is it guaranteed, nor is a refund.
According to the FTC, some scam artists market "free grants" in classified ads and even provide a toll free phone number. Here's an example of what happens when you call:
A company representative asks non-threatening, simple questions to supposedly determine if you qualify to receive a grant.
The representative then acts as if he/she is checking your eligibility, and then congratulates you as being eligible. But for you to get the grant information from them, they will charge you a processing fee. Although they will promise you that the grant is guaranteed or you can get your money back, the truth is far different.
They will tell you that the processing fee is for finding a grant source and sending you the appropriate application package in the mail. But you won't receive an application or a source. Instead they send you a list of agencies and foundations which you must write and request an application. In order to get your refund, you must apply to; and be rejected by, all these agencies within 90 days.
Most grantors don't award grants to individuals for personal needs. Generally grants are to serve mankind and communities as a whole, such as job expansion, training under-employed youth, preserving history, funding charities, art museums, or for researching medical issues. So, even if you're in a financial hardship, or you may be an unwed mother, a single parent, a minority, etc, you're not likely to approved. And you may as well forget about getting a refund from the grant "broker" because the conditions for a refund are nearly impossible, requiring you to apply at every grantor on the list they provided to you and be denied by each resource within 90 days. If even one resource doesn't reject you within the first 90 days, you won't get your refund, nor will you get it back if the rejections are past the 90 day requirement.
If you're thinking about applying for a grant, remember that the applications are available to you for free and that anyone who guarantees you a grant is likely to be interested in their own financial gain, not yours. If you think you may have been a victim of a grant scam, file a complaint with the FTC by visiting www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.
Don't fall for grant scams. Use the free resources available to you at public libraries, on the internet, and at www.creditfederal.com/government-grant.html