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Avoiding Grant Fraud

Most people know not to give out personal information to anyone you don’t know over the phone or through email. The attempt to obtain personal information from unsuspecting people over the phone or computer is a typical indicator of most telemarketing scams. You never want to give your banking information to someone that calls or contacts you out of the blue. Armed with your personal information, crooks can steal your identity, drain your bank account or worse.

Well-intentioned and educated people sometimes fall prey to scams when they think there is a larger and more significant benefit available to them. They will often ignore obvious scam warning signs like demands for ongoing fees if they think they are in for a windfall of some type and that is exactly how people get into trouble with grant fraud. The lure of being awarded a large government-backed grant can blind some hopeful applicants to the fact that they are being scammed. The important thing to remember when dealing with grant resources is that federal, state and local governments do not charge fees to process grant applications. Government grant agencies are funded by taxes and do not need to charge applicant fees or one-time processing fees. When someone claims they will give you a large amount of money if you will pay a few small fees upfront, you can be pretty sure you are dealing with a fraud. Grant fraud usually begins with a message from someone claiming to represent a government grant association or a federal grant association and they will tell you that you have already been approved for a grant. You will then be asked to pay a small fee in order to finalize your grant award and the fee will be much smaller than the grant so as not to raise suspicion. Grant scammers may even be so bold that they will claim to represent a specific government agency with a recognizable name, but there are no charges involved with real government grants. You don't need to join any type of association or club in order to receive a government-backed grant either. Tips to avoid grant fraud: A real government agency will never require payment of an advance fee before you can collect a grant. You will never receive a genuine grant award by surprise. You must apply for a grant before it is awarded in every instance. Never give out personal information to people making unsolicited calls. If you are asked for personal information, ask for the caller’s information first and check it out carefully. Never accept verbal grant contract information as genuine. Demand all information in writing. If you are approached by a suspected grant scam you should notify your local Attorney General's office and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at You can also report grant fraud to the National Fraud Information Center at 800-876-7060.