KINGSTON, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Sometimes it’s an advertisement, claiming you’ve won a “free grant” to pay for education costs, home repairs, or unpaid bills. Other times, it’s a phone call from a “government” agency with an official-sounding name. More recently, scammers impersonate friends and relatives on Facebook, urging you to pursue this “free money.”

In any case, the claim is the same: your application for a grant is guaranteed to be accepted and you’ll never have to pay the money back. But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, says that “money for nothing” grant offers are scams, whether you see them in your local paper or printed in a magazine, hear about them on the phone or come across them on social media.

According to the Ulster County District Attorney’s Division of Consumer Affairs, some scam artists advertise “free grants” in the classifieds, inviting readers to call a toll-free number for more information. Others are bolder- they call you out of the blue or use Facebook.

They lie about where they’re calling from, or claim legitimacy from an official-sounding name like “Federal Grants Administration.” They may ask you some basic questions to determine if you qualify for a grant. Calls for free money are invariably rip-offs.

Grant scammers follow a script. They congratulate you on your eligibility, then ask for your checking account information so they can “deposit your grant directly into your account,” or cover a one-time “processing fee.” The caller might even tell you that you can get a full refund if you aren’t satisfied.

You’ll never see the grant money they promised. They will disappear with your money. If you become a victim of these scams, the Ulster County District Attorney’s Division of Consumer Affairs can be reached at (845) 340-3260.

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