(Phoenix, Ariz.) Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard today warned consumers that a scam typically known as “free government grants” is making its way around the state. These companies use telephone solicitations, the U.S. Postal Service, e-mails, and classified ads to contact consumers, promising "free government grants” in return for a fee. The Attorney General’s Office has recently experienced an increase in complaints regarding this scam.
“Consumers will give personal bank account numbers and other financial information, allowing the company to withdraw money from the victim’s accounts,” Goddard said. “In some cases, multiple withdrawals have been made – even after the consumer has demanded a refund.”
Many times victims will receive a list of well-known federal programs like food stamps, student aid, Medicare, and Medicaid. This information is free and available by contacting the federal government.
The most frequent official sounding names the companies use are:
- “US Grant Guide”
- “Government Grant Center”
- “Federal Grant Association”
Consumers should be aware none of these companies is sanctioned or associated with any governmental agency.
Goddard offered the following consumer tips:
- Hang up! Don’t be afraid to be rude if you receive phone calls offering government grants or any other type of “free-money.”
- If you receive any mailings like this, throw them away. Ignore classified ads with such offers, and delete e-mails.
- NEVER give out personally identifiable information, such as Social Security numbers, financial or bank account information, to anyone that you do not know and trust. Authorizing bank withdrawals should only be done over the phone when YOU make a call, and only when it involves a company that you know and wish to do business with.
- IF IN DOUBT, DON’T GIVE IT OUT.
Arizona consumers who believe that they may have been taken in by a “government grant” scheme are encouraged to contact the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to file a complaint. Consumers can visit the Attorney General’s Web site at www.azag.gov to complete an online complaint.