Consumers are reporting another government imposter scam – this time the scammers are pretending to be calling from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to reports, callers are telling people they’ve been selected to receive a $14,000 grant from NIH. To get it, though, callers tell people to pay a fee through an iTunes or Green Dot card, or by giving their bank account number.
If you get a call like this from someone asking you to pay money to get money, stop. Hang up the phone. The federal government will not call you to give you a grant. NIH does give grants to researchers, but they have to apply for them, and those grants are for public purposes, not for personal use.
Also, the federal government will never call you, demanding that you give your personal or financial information – like your bank account or Social Security number. Has a caller ever asked you to wire money, cash a check they send you (and send them money), or use a prepaid card to pay someone? Those are all red flags. Nobody legitimate – and certainly not the government – will ever ask you to pay in any of those ways.
For more tips on avoiding government grant scams, check out NIH’s handy guide. Did you send money to an NIH imposter? Get in touch right away with whoever you used to send the money (your bank, MoneyGram, Western Union, iTunes…) and report the fraud. You might not get your money back, but you certainly won’t if you don’t report it. And then tell the FTC.