Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Free Money the Government Won't Tell You About

My sister told me that there were indeed all sorts of infomercials on TV last weekend, talking about "free money the government doesn't want you to know about."

Now, what part of that makes sense? The government gives away free money, but is hiding it from people? Why would they hide the fact that they are freely giving money? Besides, money and sex are the two things that never go underpublicized--if a rumor started that there was porn or money on the moon, rocket science would have advanced hundreds of years faster than it did, just so people could check it out. Who seriously thinks that if there were lots of money available, nobody would know about it except for infomercial guys in bad suits?

Here's the truth: the vast majority of grants are for nonprofit organizations, state and local governments.  These agencies then create programs to help groups of people.  Most of the programs they create are NOT money giveaways.  Many are loans or different types of aid aimed to create specific programs, like low-cost child care, low-interest loans or mortgages, etc.  Most of the aid given to individuals is in the form of social security, medicare, student grants and loans, etc.  For aid, the federal government as a direct source to individuals is mostly useless.  You need to know the local and state nonprofit and government agencies in charge of these programs, because these guys are getting the "free money" you see on infomercials.  For more information, see www.nofreemoney.comAlso, see this list of money and low-cost items the GOVERNMENT DOES WANT YOU TO HAVE.

But don't take my word for it. The Federal Trade Commission and the BBB teamed up to create this warning about "free government money" scams.  The government does indeed give away free, legit information on grants, and you should never have to pay a penny to find government information. The main legit site for federal grants: http://www.grants.gov/. It's absolutely free, but most of the grants listed are for local governmental agencies or nonprofits.  However, here are some sites for legitimate government funding for individuals.
NEVER give financial information about yourself, like your bank account number, to people you don't know. And never trust that the caller is from a federal agency. Many make up fake agency names. Check it yourself in the blue pages of the phone book, or call your local library.

Another is to file a complaint if you are ripped off: the toll-free number to the Federal Trade Commission is 1-877-FTC-HELP.

And if it sounds too good to be true? It is.


Anonymous said...

I saw that infomercial, and his explanation was that in order to get votes, politicians make lots of friends. Once they're voted in, they have the power to do things that people can benefit from. So they 'pay back' the people that helped get them into office, but writing grants. Their 'friends' know about the grants, and can take advantage of them, but the rest of us aren't informed, so that most of the money goes untapped.

I'm just the messenger here, dont' know if any of it is true.


Linda Koss said...

Anonymous, I'm glad you posed that. That infomercial is a good example of half-truths.

It's true that money is often spread around to the backers of successful politicians, but even then, it's written in such a way that only those specific entities can benefit. For instance, a bill will be written so that only a specific hospital with a specific criteria, in a congressperson's district, can have the grant money. But you, John and Jane Q. Public, still ain't getting that money. It's written far too specifically for anybody else to successfully apply for.

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