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FREE GRANTS Never Repay —
acceptance guaranteed. Government and private
sources $500 - $5,000. Education, home repairs, home
purchase, business, non-profits.
Phone live operators 9am-9pm. Monday-Saturday 1-800-123-4567,
The ads claim that you will qualify
to receive a "free grant" for your education,
your home repairs, your home business, or your unpaid
bills. They say your application is guaranteed to be
accepted, and you never have to repay the money. But
the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer
protection agency, warns that "money for nothing"
grant offers often are a scam: the grant isn't free,
it isn't guaranteed, and often, it isn't even available
Some scam artists market "free
grants" in classified ads, inviting consumers to
call a toll-free number. If you call, a representative
of the company will ask you some basic questions to
determine if you qualify to receive a grant: "What's
your address?" "How long have you lived at
this address?" "Do you have a bank account?"
or "Do you have at least $150 in your account at
this time?" The representative may ask you to hold
while your "eligibility" is determined. After
she congratulates you on your eligibility, she will
ask you to pay a one-time "processing fee"
that can range from $95 to $200. If you question this
fee, she will reassure you that the grant is guaranteed,
and that if you're not satisfied, you'll get a refund.
However, she won't offer to tell you all the conditions
for a refund.
The processing fee supposedly covers
finding a grant source and sending you the appropriate
application package in the mail. But, you won't receive
an application or a source. Rather, you will get a list
of agencies and foundations to which you must write
and request an application. This information is available
at no cost at any public library or on the Internet.
Most sources of grant money don't
give grants to individuals for personal need. Grants
usually are given to serve a social good, such as bringing
jobs to an area, training under-employed youth, preserving
a bit of history, funding soup kitchens or art museums,
or researching medical issues. If you ask an agency
or foundation for money for personal use, you probably
won't get it, even if you are financially needy. And
you're not likely to get a refund from the grant "broker"
because the conditions for a refund are nearly impossible
to meet: you usually have to apply and be denied by
each source on the list within 90 days.
If you're thinking about applying
for a grant, remember that the applications are available
to you for free and that anyone who guarantees you a
grant is likely to be interested in their own financial
gain, not yours. If you think you may have been a victim
of a grant scam, file a complaint with the FTC.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive
and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information
to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a
complaint or to get free
information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov
or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The
FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related
Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil
and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.