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If you receive an unsolicited telephone call claiming that you have been awarded a government grant because you pay your taxes on time, do not fall victim to this identity theft scheme.

Numerous people are receiving unsolicited phonecalls informing them they "won" a $12,500 government grant as a reward for paying their taxes on time. The caller (claiming to be the federal government) then requests banking and personal information in order to make a direct deposit to the recipient's bank account.

Never disclose personal information to any unsolicited inquiry, as compelling as the story may be. If it's too good to be true, it's most likely not true.

Like all convincing scams, this leverages a few factual details. A primary qualifier for any federal grant submission is a sworn statement that you are not in arrears on your taxes, so in fact if you pay your taxes on time, you DO qualify, but only because you haven't been disqualified- you haven't "won" anything. Government grants are only awarded on a highly competitive application, evaluation and performance basis, and recipients are never randomly solicited. While the general public benefits indirectly from many social service programs funded by federal government grants, direct recipients are usually state and municipal government, academic institutions, Native American governments, and not the general public.

If you received a telephone grant solicitation, make notes of any details the caller may disclose. Often, they will provide a telephone number or other means for contacting them. Please refer these incidents to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center to help the investigation and prosecution of these cases.

If you have already disclosed personal information to an unsolicited caller, immediately contact any of your financial institutions disclosed, tell them what happened and instruct them to put your accounts under a fraud watch.

Department of Justice identity theft victim resources
Federal Trade Commission identity theft victim resources

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