grants real, but watch for scams
While some people can find money for home
improvements through government grants, others
lose money by falling prey to numerous scams
that lure consumers with the promise of free
government money. "What we're hearing
about is people getting phone calls from somebody
claiming to be from the government and offering
them a grant for some purpose, and some of
them are these home improvement deals,"
says Susan Grant, director of the National
Consumers League's Fraud Center. If you get
such a call, beware. The government does not
call people to offer free money. "That's
the red flag," Grant says.
In some of these
scams, homeowners are told they will receive information about grant money for
a fee or if they submit personal information. Some scammers even ask for checking
account information so they supposedly can deposit grant funds directly. Natural
disaster zones with widespread property damage, like neighborhoods ravaged by
tornadoes or hurricanes, are particularly vulnerable to con artists, who sometimes
call promising government aid because of the disaster.
best way to protect yourself is to arm yourself with knowledge.
The federal government rarely gives grant
money to individuals. Instead, it generally
disburses funds to local authorities and nonprofit
organizations, so any home improvement grants
you may be eligible to receive will typically
come from the local level.
Needs vs. wants
Just as the government is not going to fund your dream vacation, it is not going
to pay for your dream home, either. If the improvements you want to make are necessary
for safety, and you qualify, there may be some money out there for you. If you're
hoping to add a little more luxury to your life, the government will not be your
If it sounds too good ...
Be wary of anyone who offers you money or to help you find "free" government
money. If someone claims to represent the government, ask what agency they work
for and tell them you'll call them back. Then look up the phone number for the
agency and contact it to find out whether the caller was in fact authorized by
If you are the recipient of a legitimate grant, you're on the receiving end of
the exchange, not the giving end. In other words, don't pay someone money in order
to get funding promised by a grant. If one of the stipulations of receiving grant
money is a financial investment on your part, contact local authorities and the
National Consumers League's Fraud Center instead.