East Texas consumers have been receiving phone calls telling them they have been awarded a grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. But in order to get the grant, the caller asks for bank account and other personally identifying information. Ultimately, consumers do not receive any grant money, and may lose their own money in the process.
“Government agencies do not make phone calls to individuals to solicit funds or financial information”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “There is an application process for all government grants. If you have not submitted an application for a grant, you will not be awarded one.”
If you would like to apply for a grant, visit grants.gov. This website provides all of the federal grant opportunities including: different types of grants, rules for applying and how to track your submissions. You can report those who pretend to hand out grants on the government’s behalf to 1-800-447-8477.
BBB provides additional tips for dealing with this scam:
* Government grants have to be applied for in order to receive. You must apply for government grants in order to be eligible to receive the benefits. If you did not apply for a grant, you will not be eligible to receive the funds.
* The government doesn't call you to contact you for such matters. The government will not notify you of your eligibility over the phone. The government notifies grant recipients through mailed letters or e-mails based on your submitted grant application.
* If you get one of these calls, just hang up. You may be tempted to call back, but this will only give the scammer another opportunity to steal your information.
* Don’t give out your personal information to someone you don’t know. Never give out your bank account numbers, date of birth, credit card number or Social Security number to an unsolicited caller or anyone you don’t know.
* There are no fees for government grants. According to grants.gov, the FTC points out you shouldn't have to pay fees for a “free” government grant.
To help prevent these types of calls, BBB encourages consumers to sign up for the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry by calling 1-888-382-1222 or visiting donotcall.gov. If you are unsure if a business or a phone call is legitimate, please verify at bbb.org or call 903-581-5704.