Did you ever get a call from someone claiming you'd been awarded a grant?
The saying, "If it sounds too good to be true, it is," holds true for grant offerings. Many listings for grants are not legitimate. If you didn't apply for it, you did not get a grant. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, and other federal agencies, fake U.S. grant scams are on the rise across the country.
At GrantWatch, we research every grant we list so that people searching for grants can be sure of the authenticity of everything they find on our site. GrantWatch lists grants you can apply for. Our grants go through a grant researcher, grant associate, proofreader, editor, and publisher to make sure they are all legitimate and to protect people from scams.
While you should never pay for a grant, you might find it helpful to pay for assistance in researching, locating, and applying for grants. What GrantWatch does is aggregate grants from the internet, foundations, and government agencies, and lists them all in one place, published in an easy user-friendly searchable format. Due to all the work involved in the process, there is a fee.
How to avoid a Grant Scam
People get calls, emails, or letters claiming to be from branches of the federal government like the IRS or the FBI that say they've won a free grant, and that all they have to do is pay the processing fee or provide their bank account and/or their social security number to receive the money.
Remember: No legitimate federal government agency employee would ever call and tell you that you qualify or have been approved for a grant that you haven't applied for.
According to Security University founder and CEO, Sondra Schneider, "There's definitely a lot of people who send out bait and want to get a hook into you, so you need to check the hook. Check the URL address, explore the website, do a screenshot when you get emails or texts."
"You want to validate the hook. There's no way a valid URL will look fishy. If people go to places like SAM to apply for grants, chances are slim that you'll be scammed. Real grantors will never ask you for information after you've been awarded a grant."
If you're really awarded a grant, you will get an email, a letter, and a phone call from the grantors to set up a time to meet with you.
What not to do
- Do not assume the caller ID is accurate. Caller IDs can be manipulated to provide false information. Have you ever gotten a call (or email\) that look like they're coming from you yourself? Clearly, that's not possible, so suffice it to say that if scammers can make the call look like a call is coming from you, they can make it look like it's coming from Discover Card, Merchant Services, or the IRS.
- Do not pay any money for a grant and never share your banking information with anyone if you are not sure who they are no matter how hard they pressure you or try to convince you of their legitimacy.
- Do not give your personal information over the phone. Ask for the caller to send you the proposal in writing. You will most likely not hear from them again. If you do, check the email carefully.
- Do not make any payments by prepaid cards or money transfers. These are like using cash and there will be no way to get your money back once you've paid.
What to do
- GrantWatch makes it easy to find grants and send you directly to the link of where to apply for foundation and government grants without having to go through a difficult search navigating the web. Grant applications that are from grants.gov will start with www.grants.gov/. Grants.gov is the only official list for all federal grant opportunities.
- Check to be sure what agency the grant issuer represents. Do a search and make sure that agency, department or foundation actually exists.
- Check the USA.gov Index of Government Agencies. Many scammers are "look-alikes," seeming to be the real agency but with wording that is slightly different. https://www.usa.gov/federal-agencies
If you think you've made an error in judgment and have been taken advantage of, contact the Federal Trade Commission Department of Consumer Information as soon as possible, www.consumer.ftc.gov and file a consumer complaint or contact your state through the State Consumer Protection Offices and your State's Attorney General.
For more information, visit the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Information page on government grant scams.
About the Author: The author is a grant writer for GrantNews and all GrantWatch websites.