The District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking is warning District consumers to be on the alert for a grant scam.
This scam is carried out using robocalls—automated telephone calls with prerecorded messages. Often, the phone number will appear on your caller ID as originating within your area code; it also may appear to be coming from a government agency—this is called “spoofing.” When you answer the telephone, a prerecorded message may announce that, “this is the Grant Department from Washington, DC”; that you have been approved for a grant of $9,000; and that they have been trying to reach you regarding your money transfer. The prerecorded message may also provide you with a (202) area code telephone number and ask you to call it. Do NOT call the number. Likewise, do NOT press any numbers on your dial pad that the prerecorded message might suggest. For example, the recording might say that pressing a certain number will permanently remove you from their call list, but it will likely only lead to more robocalls.
If you receive a live, unsolicited call from an unknown individual asking for your banking or other personal information to confirm payment of your grant money, do NOT interact with the caller. Instead, hang up immediately. No federal or state government grant-making agency will solicit money or personal banking information from a potential grant recipient.
Report these types of unsolicited calls to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at DoNotCall.gov. Be prepared to provide information such as the time and date of call, the number that appeared on your caller ID screen, your telephone number, and a description of the message.
Note that the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry is designed to stop sales calls from legitimate companies that follow the law. The FTC cannot block calls. Scammers do not care if you are on the Registry. Remember, a robocall trying to sell you something is illegal unless the company has your written permission to call you.
If you believe you have been a victim of a financial scam or have questions, please contact the Enforcement and Consumer Protection Division of the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking at (202)727-8000.
Learn how to avoid other scams by visiting disb.dc.gov/page/consumer-scams.