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Jan 24, 2012

Better Business Bureau warns of grant scams

In the wake of several calls over the last several weeks from residents across south central Louisiana, the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana is alerting residents to beware Internet and phone grant scams.

The most important fact to remember in determining whether a call or email concerning a grant is a scam is to remember that no one can be awarded a grant if they did not apply.

The federal government and private foundations do not select grant winners by random. Actually, the grant process is generally long and very competitive and only those who apply are considered.

Listed below are signs a call or email concerning a grant is a scam:

A caller or email notifies someone that they were randomly selected via email, regular mail or phone.

Residents are told they received a “government grant” or “a grant from Washington D.C.” with no more specific details.

Residents have to pay an up-front fee to receive the grant money.
People are told they won because they paid taxes, shopped at Wal-Mart or need money to repair their homes.

The Better Business Bureau offers the following advice:

Watch out for phrases like "free grant money." Grants do not have to be repaid; thus there is no need to use the word "free."

The federal government and private foundations do not usually give out grants for personal debt consolidation, or to pay for other personal needs. Grants are usually given only to serve a social good such as bringing jobs to an area, training under-employed youth, preserving a bit of history, etc.

Visit your public library. Ask a librarian to help you find reference books describing foundations and the criteria they use in awarding grants.

Be wary if you are asked to provide money up-front to an unknown company before the company will provide the services promised.

If you are having financial problems, there are local non-profit credit counseling services which may be able to assist you with your problem at no charge.