A new government grant scam has popped up on Facebook recently. The latest scam starts with someone who sends a Friend Request. It may be from a complete stranger or someone you thought was already on your Friends List. In this case, the “friend” claims that they have received grant money and you too should contact the grant agent to claim your funds. The agent will assure you that you are eligible for a sizeable grant, but you have to act quickly before the grant disbursement deadline passes.
In order to process and ship your check, you will have to pay a processing fee. In this scam consumers actually have a choice in how much grant money they can receive. For a $100,000 grant you will have to pay $800, for $200,000 – $1,500. It’s that easy…..
Of course not, it’s a scam. If you pay the fee or give the agent access to your bank account information, you will never see the grant money and you may lose more than the processing fee, if the scammer wipes out your bank account.
The Bottom Line: If anyone claims that you can receive grant money from the U.S. Government or any other source, just by paying a fee, don’t believe it!
So how do you protect yourself from this or any other version of this scam? Take a look at the following tips.
- Change your settings. Set Facebook so you can only receive posts from those on your friends list. This will block most spam. Check Facebook for instructions.
- Share your first name when necessary, but no other personal information. Don’t share information that would allow someone to pinpoint your exact location.
- Don’t share your birthday, age or place of birth. This information could be useful to identity thieves and to data mining companies. Social Security numbers can be predicted based on publicly-available information, including your birthday, age and place of birth.
- Set strong passwords. Avoid obvious or easy-to-guess passwords. You should also avoid using your birth date, child’s name or birth date, mother’s maiden name or the last four digits of your Social Security number. Create a unique password for each of your social media accounts.
- Don’t link your account to other social media. If scammers get in, they can easily share spam across all of your accounts.
- Be careful when you click on shortened links. Use a URL expander to examine short URLs before clicking on them.
- Watch out for pop-up windows, especially any that state your security software is out of date or that security threats and/or viruses have been detected on your computer. Use your task manager to navigate away from these without clicking on them, then run your spyware and virus protection software.
Source: BBB North Alabama and BBB serving Northwest North Carolina