Read the fine print on the government grant ad on Facebook

You may have seen ads all over the Internet promising you thousands of dollars of government grant money. You're asked to pay a small fee (usually about $1 or $2) plus shipping and handling for a CD to tell you how to get this grant money. Beware: These grants don't exist and you could be stuck with monthly charges on your credit card if you sign up for it.

When you look at the contact information from the various Web sites, you'll find the outfit is based in Las Vegas, NV, and being run by a company called the Grant Access Club. In case you've already been duped, their address on the Web site is 5348 Vegas Drive, Suite 866. When I put that address into Google Maps I got an approximate location that looked like a parking lot with some small houses in the back. Whether this business is being run out of one of those houses or this is a bogus address, I don't know.

Some think Facebook bears responsibility for allowing this scam to grow rapidly on their pages through its affinity marketing network of advertisers. The biggest problem with this scam is that if you get caught up in it there is no easy way to call and cancel the program.If you take the time to read the fine print in the "Terms and Conditions" you'll find in the details about termination that, "The resource center is billed at $58.61 monthly. This can be canceled at anytime simply by calling the customer service number provided in the confirmation email and stating your desire to cancel said bonus material. However, in order to not be charged any future reoccurring cost, please give ample time (2 business days) to be canceled out of any recurring billing system before the next scheduled charge to your account."

When you answer one of the ads you're given a 7-day free trial. If you read the fine print, you find out that "Not canceling the trial programs constitutes authorization, by you, the buyer, for any charges (as outlined) for the associated bonus service until your request to cancel has been received and processed by our customer service staff. By not canceling the bonus program during the trial period or prior to two days before a scheduled billing cycle, you agree that any reoccurring charges billed to you will be non-refundable."

Unfortunately for folks caught up in this, by the time they realize their credit card will be charged for additional charges it's already too late to cancel according to the above terms. So your best bet is to just not respond to any of those ads even if the free government money peeks your interest. There is no government stimulus program for individuals that will give you thousands of dollars that you don't have to pay back.

Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books including "Surviving a Layoff: A Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Your Life Back Together" and the "Complete Idiot's Guide to Improving Your Credit Score."
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