A caller identifying his company as "National Grant Department" and refusing to provide other information about the company contacted me today offering me a $12,000 government grant. I was not fooled and when Google returned no results for the supposed name of this company I wanted to know why. This is a classic "government grant scam": Remember, NEVER give out ANY personal information to someone over the phone unless YOU contacted THEM.
Here is a transcript of my conversation with this person at 3:10 PM Sunday, January 29:
"Is this a telemarketing call?"
-"No, we are not a telemarketer, we are absolutely not going to buy or sell anything from you."
-"I am calling to tell you you have been selected to receive a government grant of $12,000 absolutely free of charge."
"What is the name of your company?"
-"National Grant Department"
"I'm googling your company right now and I can't find any information about it on the internet. Do you have a website?"
- "Our website is advantageamerica.com"
"All I see on advantageamerica.com is a bunch of links to mortgage websites. What does that have to do with government grants or the National Grant Department?"
-"We also do *mumbles* mortgages and we combine our business *mumbles*"
"Why doesn't your company have a website?"
-"Ma'am, we are an established business. Now you understand that you are going to be receiving a $12,000 government grant absolutely free of charge, okay?"
"How does your company stay in business if you give $12,000 grants away to random people for free?"
-"Ma'am, as I said, you have been specially selected to receive this grant absolutely for free. Our company does all the work to find people who are qualified for government grants so that they can avoid the hassle of applying for a grant. You pay your taxes on time every year, yes?"
"So does most of America. How do you make a profit if you are doing all this work for free?"
-"There is a one time processing fee of $59.95. Now I just need to verify some information with you. I'll be transferring you over to our verification line..."
"$59.95 is a lot of money to give you when I have no evidence that you actually have any grant money to give away. Now, I do not give any personal information out over the phone unless it is to someone I have called myself, so could you give me a phone number for your company so that I can research this offer and get back to you later?"
-"Ma'am, we have a different toll free number for each region and since I am located in Florida and you are located in Kansas I can't give you our toll-free number, but you will get a toll-free number when you go through the verification."
"No, I'm not going to give any personal information to you unless I know that you're a reputable company and since you have given me no evidence of that I am not interested in this offer. Please put me on your "do-not-call" list."
"Hello? Hello? Are you there?"