Beware of grant scams

A tough economy makes consumers more likely to fall victim to scams. They're less skeptical than they might usually be, often because they're desperate to earn some money or find an opportunity for themselves. One scam gathering steam is the "government grant" scheme. You simply pay a few dollars for a "grant kit," and you can be quickly on your way to getting free money from Uncle Sam.

The scam starts with a commercial featuring what looks like an actual person with an actual check from the government. The problem is that the same advertisement has been seen running with several different first and last names, including Kevin Hoeffer, Tom Donahue, Sam Kelley, and Ben Karlson for starters.

It sounds like you have little to lose with these grant schemes, since you're only paying a few dollars to get the materials. But you're actually signing up for a subscription service that will charge your credit card $50 to $70 a pop, until you wise up and ask them to stop.

Be wary of any ad offering you thousands of dollars of "free" money, especially if they're using the economic stimulus activities of the government in their sales pitch. Yes, there are legitimate opportunities to receive grants from our government, but they're not simply passing out cash to anyone who asks. There are programs with standards and guidelines to qualify, and often lengthy a lengthy application process. Do your homework before handing over your credit card or bank information to a website offering you this type of "opportunity."
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