The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is warning citizens to be aware of scammers who see the New Year as the perfect opportunity to prey on unsuspecting individuals looking to replenish funds after the holidays. Fraudulent grant offers are particularly pervasive, so HHS representatives have a few tips to keep in mind in order to protect yourself from tricksters.
First of all, no legitimate federal government employee would ever call to say you qualify or you’ve been approved for a grant you never applied for. Representatives say to look out for people who target individuals since all government grants involve an application process to carry out projects with a public purpose and are not intended for personal use.
People should also know that it is illegal to ask individuals to pay to apply or to increase their chances of being awarded a federal grant. Anyone seeking monetary compensation for a federal grant is a not a legitimate government official.
The only official access point for all federal grant-making agencies is www.grants.gov and all government grant applications, as well as information about them is available for free.
Doctored caller-ID information and fraudulent government agency symbols can be used to make a plea even more convincing. If you feel suspicious about a call, email or letter, look up the official number and website of the agency to check it out.
If you think someone has falsely represented Grants.gov or the Department of Health and Human Services, email firstname.lastname@example.org and call the HHS Fraud Hotline at 1-800-447-8477.