Phone Scam Targets Government Employees

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Better Business Bureau is warning government employees they may be targeted by scammers due to their furlough status.  The BBB is hearing from consumers in Georgia who say that they are receiving calls informing them that because they are a furloughed employee they are entitled to tax free grants of up to $9000.  Of course, the grants are nonexistent and the bad guys are really after account numbers or advance fees.

Michele Mason, President of the BBB of North Alabama tells WHNT News 19 she hasn’t received any reports of this happening here locally in Alabama, but it’s only a matter of time. Especially with so many government contractors in our region.

“The catch is you have to give out your bank account number or credit card number.  That`s a sign they are going to take your money not give you money,” said Mason.  “For the last two years the government grant scam has made the BBB’s top 10 list of scams, this is just a new version,” added Mason.

Consumers should remember that grants are not typically awarded to individuals and usually have very strenuous qualification requirements.  Additionally, a grant issued by the government would come from a very specific part of the government, such as the US Department of Education or US Department of Justice, not just “the government”.

If you are contacted by someone offering a grant, here are some red flags to help spot a scam:

  • You were randomly selected via e-mail, phone or mail
  • It is a “government” grant, no specific information is provided
  • There is an upfront fee required to claim the grant or they need your bank account information to deposit the money
  • You never applied for the grant
  • There are no stipulations on how you spend the money

Grants are out there but securing one is a complicated process.  Don’t fall for the promise of easy money.  Information regarding legitimate grants can be found at www.grants.gov or by calling 1-800-518-4726.  To check out a company or charity, visit http://northalabama.bbb.org  or call 1-800-763-4222.

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