Recent passage of the government’s stimulus package has led to a spike in scams that are offering consumers free advice on receiving government grants. BBB of Eastern North Carolina is warning consumers to be wary of these companies.
[USPRwire, Fri Mar 06 2009] Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina (www.bbb.org) warns the public to be extremely wary of companies that offer free advice on how to get government grants. BBB has received hundreds of consumer complaints claiming they are being charged as much as $69.95 a month after seeking this free advice.
Immediately following the approval of the $787 billion stimulus package, Web searches for the word "stimulus" returned sponsored-link sites like govtstimulusplan.com and stimulusgrantsapproval.com. These sites claim, because of the recently passed stimulus package, consumers can easily get government grants to pay bills. The sites use enticing testimonials such as, "I got my stimulus check in the mail in less than 30 days." Contrary to such claims, the federal government does not award grants to help consumers pay general debt.
"The stimulus package and other Capitol Hill efforts to jumpstart the economy are dominating the headlines right now," says Beverly Baskin, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina. "Sadly, unscrupulous businesses often try to take advantage of financially desperate families by exploiting current news stories."
Additionally, recent ads on Facebook directed viewers to Web sites set up to look like blogs, such as davidgetsgreen.com and jakecutler.com. These blogs then lead to a company called Government Grant Solutions, selling a Grant Program Kit. The Web site includes testimonials from people who claim they were able to obtain money to avoid foreclosure, fix their car or pay bills. All of which are unconfirmed.
Before paying any money for assistance in earning government grants, BBB offers the following advice:
• While it's true that the federal government does give out billions of dollars in grant money every year, most grants are given to help students pay for college or for specifically defined reasons such as research or to businesses in particular industries.
• There's no reason to pay for software or guides when applying for government grants. Such information is already available for free on federal government Web sites including: www.grants.gov, www.Studentaid.ed.gov, www.govbenefits.gov and www.sba.gov.
• Always check a business' BBB Reliability ReportTM before giving out any bank account or credit card information. The reports are available for free at www.bbb.org.
BBB notes three additional companies that have hundreds of complaints filed against them and hold an F rating:
• Grant Instructor - 409 complaints
• Raven Media - 295 complaints
• Grant University - 300 complaints
According to the BBB, complainants allege:
• Being charged as much as $69.95 on their credit or debit card when ordering a free CD
• Being told that they have actually signed up for a free trial, as explained in the terms and conditions on the Web site
• Never receiving the free CD, receiving the CD after the free-trial had expired, or being unable to log into the Web site to access grant information
• Not receiving refunds
• Learning that they needed to cancel within seven days of requesting the CD to avoid monthly charges
• Receiving additional credit card charges from other companies
• Having to cancel their credit card to stop being billed each month
About BBB of Eastern North Carolina:
The Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina is a 501 (c)(6) not-for-profit corporation serving 33 counties in eastern North Carolina. The organization is funded primarily by BBB Accredited Business fees from more than 3,200 local business and professional firms. The BBB promotes integrity, consumer confidence and business ethics through business self-regulation in the local marketplace. Services provided by the BBB include, reports on companies and charitable organizations, general monitoring of advertising in the marketplace, dispute resolution services, and consumer/business education programs. All services are provided at no cost to the public, with the occasional exception of mediation and arbitration. Visit www.bbb.org.
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