"Free Money" from the Government: Variations on a Scheme

"There is currently money available NOW right here in your area, to help pay your bills."

"NO lines, NO waiting, NO credit needed. This is YOUR money and will be sent back to the federal government if not used in your area."

Federal officials, consumer advocates, and businesses are hearing from people who have responded to ads, websites, phone calls, text messages, and visits from salespeople who claim the federal government will pay their bills – for everything from utilities, cable, and cell phones to their mortgages, student loans, and insurance premiums. The salespeople are scam artists. There is no federal bank account set up to pay your bills.

The FTC and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, say these cons are pros who may use half-truths to draw people in: The federal government has public assistance programs to help people in need. But this so-called program is a fraud.

If you respond to the scam artist's come-on, they'll charge you a processing fee and ask you for your personal information, which may include your name, Social Security number (SSN), credit card number, debit card number or other personal information. In exchange, they will give you instructions on how to use bank account and routing numbers to pay your bills online, or print checks so you can make your payments in person or by mail.

At first, you may think your bills have been paid. It's not until the payment is rejected, and you're notified that you still owe the money, that the scam is revealed. At that point, you may owe late or penalty fees to the company you thought you were paying as well as possibly owing fees to your bank for returned or rejected payments. The damage doesn't stop there: Not only do you still owe the money, but you're out the "fee" you paid the scam artist, you're at risk for identity theft, and you could be fined or even arrested for passing bad checks or trying to use a bank account that doesn't belong to you.

If you see a pitch for this scam, share it with your local police department, Better Business Bureau, state Attorney General's office, and the FTC. If you followed the scammer's instructions, contact your creditors immediately. It's also a good idea to review your credit report, which you can do every twelve months for free. To order a free copy of your report, call 1-877-322-8228 or visit www.annualcreditreport.com. Look for inquiries from companies you haven't contacted; accounts you didn't open; and debts on your accounts that you can't explain. Check that information like your SSN, address(es), and name or initials are correct. If you find fraudulent or inaccurate information, get it removed.

The Facts About Getting Government Assistance

  • The government provides help through benefit programs for job training, nutritional assistance, education, and health care, among other needs.
  • To get government assistance, you must apply. Each program has specific eligibility requirements.
    You shouldn't have to pay a fee to apply for a government assistance program.
  • Not all government assistance programs provide cash payments. Assistance programs that provide payments may have conditions and limitations.

For More Information

For information about federally-funded benefit and assistance programs, visit Benefits.gov. If you don't have access to the internet, call USA.gov's National Contact Center at 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 8 pm Eastern Time, to speak to an information specialist.

Tagged with: debt, government, loan, scam
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

I got a call today from someone offering a government grant. I was told that I would get a check deposited into my account in the amount of 8500.00 if I just gave them my account number, Well I told the foreign speaking person on the phone that if they mailed it to me that I would deposit it myself. Well she began very angry when I said this to her. So if you get any calls for the 202 area code beware. It is a scam. Dont answer unless you know the number and if the person that is offering the government grant not American then you know it is something strange going on....DON"T GIVE INFORMATION OUT PERIOD

The same 202 number called me they should be in prison!!!!!!! They wanted me to get a greendot card from Walmart for $250.00 and call them back. Really!!!!! Nobody is that stupid!!!!!! They should be in prison!!!!!!

This is what happen to me today and I'm so stupid to send the money to the people I don't know but I did and I got nothing in return. I'm learning something new in my life and this is the first time happen to me. I regret sending the money to them..

Someone Just Called From A 202 Number .Idk Who They Think They Fooling .They Story Sound Real Good Though Lol

i went through something like that tonight on facebook a guy my sister went to school with sent me a message about a woman named pat clemens who works for the gov and is givin loans to people in need and dont have to pay them back but if i pay so much i get so much such as 750 dollars for 50000 not right i talked to an officer from my town and also sent an email to the gov about it
said i could have money within 48 hrs of payment bs everyone needs to be aware of such scams

I received an friends request from a pat Clemens said she was an anent of the Federal government asked for a lot of personal information.

Well I want to know exactly where do u apply n can some one give me the gov grant phone number I need a free personal grant

There is no such thing as a free personal government grant.

If someone says you'll get you a grant if you pay them a fee,  don't do it.

Thank goodness I researched this. I just got sent a msg on FB from a friend to get a hold of a woman named Bowen Sheila Gay on FB to receive a $50,000 Federal Government Grant for only paying a clearance fee of $1,500. I also was told I had to pay it in 24 hrs and I would be guaranteed the check in 48 hrs!

Phone number used was 315-825-4574.

What email address do I use to alert the government about this?

Please report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint.

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