How paying $1.98 could cost you hundreds

If you've ever seen an infomercial for a product called Grant Day One, there is at least one unsatisfied customer out there who suggests you stay away.

The Detroit Free Press recently profiled Heather Priestman, a 31-year-old in Marysville, Mich., who was recently laid off and saw an infomercial touting a CD full of information about getting grant money.

The CD would only cost her $1.98, and Priestman naturally figured that was a reasonable risk. If the CD didn't have much information, well, she was only out $1.98.

Well, it wound up being closer to $198 and then some. Man, stories like this tick me off.

Here's what happened. Priestman was charged the $1.98 and about the same time, unbeknownst to her, the same company charged her another $190. She went along her business and wrote several checks to pay some bills and wound up with overdraft charges over around $200. So if we're doing the math, that's around $392 it cost her to do business with a company called Grants For You Now.

Oh, and the CD, which she did later receive in the mail, contained a lot of invalid Web addresses.

Beware of any offer that suggests you can get government grants or learn a method for making money. And be forewarned that small upfront charges are likely to lead to larger ones down the road. The Federal Trade Commission recently cracked down on several similar schemes and has been trying to heighten awareness about them.