Last Modified: Monday, July 09, 2012 5:20 PM
There are no government grants that will pay your bills, a Better Business Bureau official said.
A scam going around offers bogus government grants to pay bills if consumers will call a phone number and provide the number on the back of their Social Security card, Carmen Million, BBB president, said Friday.
The scammers will call one or two people, who then unwittingly spread the scam through word of mouth to their friends and families, she said.
Consumers are provided with a legitimate bank routing number, which allows the bill payments to initially show up as an authorized payment, but eventually are rejected because of insufficient funds, Million said.
What makes the scam unique is that the swindlers don’t get any funds from the transaction, just the individual’s information.
“Obviously, we just never suggest giving personal information to any unknown person,” Million said. “The other thing is, we’re not aware of any government grant to pay bills.”
Million said the scam is going on in various forms in other states. In some cases President Obama’s name is used; in one version, Gov. Bobby Jindal has received a federal grant of $4 million to help residents pay their bills.
Million said the best way to fight scams is with caution and research. If the government or the president were offering grants to pay bills, “wouldn’t it be in the news?” she said.
“When times are hard, people want to believe things,” Million said. “But you’ve got to use common sense and investigate.”
Million said these scams are hard to stop because most originate outside the United States.
“Usually (scams) are about people paying bills because this is what people are struggling with, and a lot of times the ones that fall for it are the ones that can least afford it,” she said. “That’s unfortunate.”