Beware Free Government Grants
We recently received this e-mail from a reader:
I am seeing a lot of sites advertising free government grants. I would like to know if they are scams or if there is such a thing. Every site I go into asks for money. Could you please let me know if this is true. My husband and I are just receiving Social Security and we do not want to be taken for any money. I would appreciate you letting me know if there is such a grant available or is it just a bunch of crooks out there.
Even without knowing which sites Barbara is talking about, the first thing we’d advise anyone is never to pay for anything that’s purportedly “free.”
We’d also suggest avoiding any site the claims to be federal government-related and doesn’t use the ".gov" domain name. For instance, there is a legitimate U.S. government site called www.grants.gov, but as it points out on its homepage: “Grants.gov does not provide personal financial assistance.” Although it does provide links to other government sites for consumers seeking assistance with student loans, small business start-up loans and personal help such as disaster recovery, none of these requests an upfront payment.
Finally, we’d also suggest reading a useful Federal Trade Commission alert “Free Government Grants’: Don’t Take Them For Grant-ed.” Beyond pointing out that the only official access point for all federal grant-making agencies is www.grants.gov, the alert offers a number of useful tips and notes that these "free grant" offers are typically scams and rip-offs.