If you're trying to start up a small business or raise money for a cause near and dear to your heart, chances are you've heard of free grant writing businesses. This article was written to serve as a warning against these and other grant-writing scams, so you don't give your money to crooks.
Apply for Free Money!
A common theme for scam websites, the "Apply for Free Money" scams
often operate one of two ways. Either the "free" grant application
requires you to input your Social Security number and/or credit card
information "for verification purposes", or the company asks for a
small payment in return for a huge grant, when in reality their
delivered product is just a list of government agencies that have grant programs.
The best way to avoid these scams is to be diligent in checking out any company you plan on giving your sensitive information to. Read the website through carefully, making special note of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and just general sloppiness in website design, since these are classic hallmarks of scam sites.
Beware of sites that sell things like "Grant-Writing Software", and have fancy-looking signs saying "Supplies are Limited! Get Yours Today!" The actual grant-writing process is not a flamboyant used-car show, and any site that uses this approach is either a scam or will perform so poorly that there's hardly a difference.
Even if a site seems legitimate and error-free, read the terms through carefully before agreeing to anything. Often, to avoid legal trouble, scam sites actually have their shady dealings spelled out in obscure language in the terms you agree to, counting on the average person's unwillingness to slog through dense legal jargon. Do it; it'll save you a giant headache.
You've Won a Government Grant!
Whether it's for school loans, credit card debt, or any other ridiculous reason, grants are not given out like door prizes on a game show. It's a laborious process that either you or someone you contract has to go through, and there is no legal way for you to just be "awarded" one without your knowledge.
Likewise, you should beware of companies that guarantee you'll win the grant if you use their services. There is no guarantee in the race to secure grant money; anyone who tells you differently is a scammer.
Use Your Grant for Anything!
A flat-out lie; government grants are awarded to specific individuals for specific purposes, and can not be used for anything but those specific purposes, which do not include buying cars, houses or other extravagant luxuries.
There are lots of legitimate resources online for people truly in need of government funding and grant writers, and scammers are there to take advantage of those too lazy or too impulsive to take the time to research the subject properly. Don't be another victim who loses money to scammers; take your time, do the research, and find out if you are truly eligible for a grant before giving away any personal information.