The federal stimulus package announced last week includes sending every American a check to offset lost income from the coronavirus crisis. Unfortunately, scammers wasted no time in taking advantage of this news! The Better Business Bureau is already getting reports on BBB Scam Tracker (BBB.org/ScamTracker) about government imposters calling about the checks. Watch out for these phony government grants that ask for personal and banking information. Bottom line: NEVER GIVE OUT PERSONAL INFORMATION, INCLUDING BANKING INFORMATION, over the phone.
Tips to Spot a COVID-19 Grant Scam:
- Remember, government agencies do not communicate through social media avenues like Facebook, nor do they call you on the phone. So, be wary of unsolicited messages.
- Do not pay any money for a “free” government grant. If you have to pay money to claim a “free” government grant, it is not really free. A real government agency will not ask you to pay an advanced processing fee. The only official list of all U.S. federal grant-making agencies is Grants.gov.
- Check for look-alikes. Be sure to do your research and see if a government agency or organization actually exists. Find contact info on your own and call them to be sure the person you’ve heard from is legitimate.
- Don’t assume an offer in a social media message is from a real friend. It’s easier for scammers to impersonate real people on social media. Call your friend to verify they contacted you (and share this Scam Alert with them if they are spreading false information).
- For more information about scams in the wake of coronavirus, see BBB.org/Coronavirus.