No sooner did President Barack Obama step off the podium, scam artists started launching web sites and e-mails, promising everybody a little stimulus action.
Here's one "Nikki" of Bartlett, TN, brought to my attention: www.obamastimulus.org.
Looks nice. Great pictures of the President and the White House. Nikki e-mailed:
"Of course, to get the grant form you have to pay a couple bucks for shipping and handling...if it is a scam then stay away and if it is true, some could benefit."
Nikki, that web site is just another gimmick to separate you from your money.
I dug deeper through it. You can't find a physical address of the folks behind it.
Then you click on the disclaimer. Here's what it says:
"This web site does not offer grants, but grant application assistance. Grant funding is not guaranteed, and will be issued at the disgresion (sic) of the state and/or federal government. Must be 18 years or older, and a legal resident of the United States to apply. This program is not endorsed by Barack Obama, or any part of any state, or federal government."
Notice the misspelling of "discretion"? There's a tell-tale sign!
It admits that it cannot provide you a grant or anything from the stimulus package. Grant "assistance"? You'll pay a bunch of money to get applications you can get for free directly from government agencies.
The Federal Trade Commission is up in arms over "stimulus scam" sites. The commission's Betsy Lordan says these are the tell-tale signs.
* UPFRONT FEES FOR STIMULUS MONEY. Lordan says that's a scam every time.
* CLICK-A-LINKS. You have to click on a link to apply or collect your portion. Do that, and you'll launch spyware on your computer.
* REQUESTS FOR PERSONAL INFORMATION. Enough said.
Now here's the real deal. If you are a taxpayer, and you're due a stimulus check for some reason, IT WILL BE MAILED TO YOU. You don't have to do anything! You might get a letter from the treasury or IRS saying one is on the way, but you don't have to fill out, click on or sign up for anything. You just sit tight!
As far as grants are concerned, www.grants.gov is the only official site to research real government grants. That's it. You shouldn't answer or go to any other site or offer.