- Scammers reach you in lots of ways. They put ads online for (fake) government grants. Or they might call you using a fake number that shows up on your caller ID so it looks like they’re calling from a federal or state government agency. Some send texts, emails, or messages on social media saying you might qualify for free money from the government.
- Scammers make big promises. They might say you can get free money or a grant to pay for education, home repairs, home business expenses, household bills, or other personal needs.
- Scammers try to look official. Besides faking their phone number, scammers will pretend they’re with a real government agency like the Social Security Administration. Or, they’ll make up an official-sounding name of a government agency, like the Federal Grants Administration, which doesn’t exist.
- Scammers ask you for information or money. Government grant scammers might start by asking for personal information, like your Social Security number, to see if you “qualify” for the grant (you will). Then they’ll ask for your bank account information — maybe to deposit “grant money” into your account or to pay up-front fees. Or they’ll ask you to pay those fees with a gift card, cash reload card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency. That’s always a scam. Read this Government Imposters fotonovela to see how it happens.
- Scammers try to be convincing. They might even promise a refund if you aren’t satisfied. But that’s a lie. Once you give your bank account information, or pay fees, your money will disappear. And, you’ll never see the grant they promise.
- The government won’t get in touch out of the blue about grants. It won’t call, text, reach out through social media, or email you. It won’t offer you free government grants of any kind, much less grants to pay for home repairs, medical costs, or other personal needs. Real government grants require an application, and they’re always for a very specific purpose. Learn more (for free) at grants.gov.
- Never share your financial or personal information with anyone who contacts you. Government agencies will never call, text, message you on social media, or email to ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number. In fact, no matter who they say they are, don’t give out that information. Once a scammer has your information, they can drain money from your accounts, or steal your identity.
- Don’t pay for a list of government grants — and don’t pay any up-front fees. The only place to find a list of all available federal grants is at grants.gov. And that list is free. No government agency will ever contact you to demand that you pay to get a grant. And no government agency will ever ask you to pay with cash, a gift card, a cash reload card, by wire transfer, or with cryptocurrency. Not for a grant, and not ever.
- If you paid a scammer, act quickly. If you think you’ve sent money to a government impersonator like one of these grant scammers, contact the company you used to send the money. Tell the gift card, money transfer, or cryptocurrency company that it was a fraudulent transaction. Then ask them to reverse it.
Scammers often ask you to pay in ways that make it tough to get your money back. No matter how you paid a scammer, the sooner you act, the better. Learn more about how to get your money back.