Growing up, we all learned that money doesn’t grow on trees. Here’s another hard truth: the federal government is not giving away thousands of dollars in grants to people who pay their taxes on time, have no criminal records, never declared bankruptcy or were ‘selected in a demographic survey.’ Anyone who claims you’ll get ‘free money’ for those reasons is trying to scam you.
The scam starts with a call from a ‘spoofed’ phone number that seems to be from Washington, DC. The caller gives an official-sounding agency name like the ‘Federal Grant Education Department’ or ‘US Grant Commission’ and may know your name and address. When he finishes blabbing about the money you’ll get, there’s a catch: he wants you to pay a transfer fee or application fee, give him your bank account number, or send a check before he sends the ‘grant.’ Save yourself time and money. Don’t respond.
If you get a call like this, hang up right away. Remember:
- if you didn’t apply for a federal grant, the government won’t call and offer you one
- the federal government doesn’t charge a fee to apply for educational or other grants
These sites address federal financial help:
- StudentAid.ed.gov tells how to qualify and apply for grants, loans and other federal financial aid for education beyond high school
- Benefits.gov helps you find money and benefits you might get for job training, childcare assistance, health care and other needs
- GovLoans.gov lists federal loans available for housing, disaster relief, education, veterans and other purposes.