Safe Families

Jul 30, 2013 3:36 PM by MELISSA CANONE

The BBB of Acadiana warns residents to beware phone 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 phone grant scams.

According to concerned residents, the calls appear to be coming from the (202) area code, which is in Washington D.C. and claiming the consumer "won" or was selected to receive a $9,000 grant for any number of reasons, including paying federal taxes on time, being a good citizen, not owing anyone money or shopping at large national retail outlets.

The callers have a foreign accent, state they are government workers and the grant money does not need to be paid back.

Residents are also reporting the scammers are also asking for credit card numbers and other banking information.

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 or because residents pay taxes on time. The grant process is generally long and very competitive and only those who apply are considered.

Listed below are sure 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 as to what government agency is actually awarding the money.
  • Consumers 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 truth is grants are not given for these reasons in this way and these are sure signs of a scam.

Federal grants are not given because residents are in need, but to help funders accomplish specific missions such as keeping youths out of gangs or to finance research or academic endeavors.

Grants to individuals also need prior approval by the Internal Revenue Service. It is generally left to non-profit organizations to assist people in repairing homes, paying utilities, etc.

BBB offers the following tips to avoid being taken by a grant scam:

  • 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 historical sites or structures, etc.
  • 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.

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