Occasionally websites come to our attention through our Community section. They also come through the posts and comments on our Facebook page. Sometimes the topics are useful resources we are happy to bring to the attention of our users. Other times the information and questions we get indicate that certain sites may not be completely trustworthy.
We have no direct evidence of purposeful wrongdoing with regard to americasgotfunding.com. Still there are enough red flags to warrant extreme caution if you are considering giving them money.
They are not a government website nor a funding agency and don't claim to be. They welcome you in with colorful and upbeat pictures along with text designed to give the impression that just about anyone can qualify for some kind of grant or funding.
The catch is that you must pay to belong to their “members only website” where you will supposedly receive information about and assistance with applying for those funds. So read on and just go in with your eyes wide open:
Discover your program today!
We note further down on this page that we have not actually paid the fee(s) and signed up for this site to learn more about it. Well now we have done just that so that we could report on it more fully and accurately. Our basic experience and perceptions are as follows:
- It was very easy to sign up and the fees were clearly explained;
- The confirmation email was received (and not sent to spam) and it included all the necessary payment and login information;
- Most of the Members Only pages are a collection of content, lists and resources;
- There are some advertisements in the Members Only section;
- There are lists of links for grant awards. However, there is no way to filter or search by location, and some of the links are mis-categorized;
- There are teleseminars available as advertised but they just loop through a 10-week program rather than providing new and updated information periodically;
- Charges occurred as expected;
- We did receive a weekly email with “Funding Application Alerts.” Though they did match our requested alerts they again did not include location targeting and most were irrelevant. Email links went to the generic “Grant Alerts” page on the site and were not helpful.
- When we blocked the credit card billing the alert emails halted. Interestingly, we did receive an email offering to reduce the almost $30 monthly fee to $9.97.
Our conclusion is that the site's claims are not illegal but they are not really justified. They don't provide information that you cannot find for free – for example in our reviews of Types of Grants and Where to Find Them and numerous other articles that we update regularly. Just take a look at our Featured Topcis at the top left of each page as well as Popular Searches that is directly below it. Also very useful is the Site Index listed at the very bottom of each page. And it's all free.
Some sites have customer reviews that do not reflect terribly kindly on this organization. Some users thought their initial fee was all that was required only to discover they need to pay almost $30 monthly. Others attempted without success to reach a customer service agent who could provide any help at all with their payment complaint. Still others were very skeptical about the caller id for the company on their phone. Most warned strongly against paying these people any money.
If you read reviews from people about their service you do not get a positive view of this outfit. Information partially filled out on their registration form but not even submitted appears to get to them anyway, as others have received phone calls after deciding not to submit their information on the form. Another individual who was anxious for money for medical purposes got as far as agreeing to pay $29.95 —— which turned out to be $29.95 per month with no results (but lots of phone calls) resulting. Some of the phone calls were decidedly strange, one including a request to set up a foreign bank account. If you decide to try this company’s offerings please be very careful what information you provide and what if anything you agree to pay for.
This site is hard to pin down. Its rating with the Better Business Bureau is an “F” but they are not a current member so that rating is probably old. Their “popularity “ in terms of website ranking is low but it’s not clear that rating means anything. There is nothing wrong with the site in terms of malware or danger of use so they are safe for browsing. And they use HTTPS so financial transactions should be safe from being hacked. It may be another matter what happens to your funds after they go to this organization.
For example, one review on Yelp was from a frustrated user who tried for nine weeks to successfully to cancel his subscription. And despite the delay only the most recent payment was refunded, so he was out almost $270 for nothing. Please remember that anyone or any organization that asks for payment up front in order to give you a grant is almost certainly a fraudulent vendor.
The requirement that you must pay to find and apply for grants or other types of aid always sets off alarms for us. Yes there are many grants and agencies and sources of funds for those who qualify. And yes it can be overwhelming. But you simply don't need to pay to have someone point you to information that is freely and easily available. Plenty of sites do that and more for free.
Note: See our March 2017 Update Above regarding this section:
We have not paid the fee to see what sort of information and assistance America's Got Funding actually provides. Our assessment of what little we could see of the site itself certainly did not make us feel confident about giving them any personal or financial information. These doubts were confirmed when we read their review from the Better Business Bureau and when we tried to find positive reviews from users either through online search or social media. These findings are summarized below:
- The site looks very encouraging with rows of icons representing different kinds of grants and funding that are availble. Frustratingly, clicking any of these items took us only to the site's Registration form rather than to any more detailed information.
- Major newspapers and headlines are featured on the right as if they are testimonials for America's Got Funding. In fact they are simply headlines about different types of grants, with no specific dates. While they may be interesting, they offer no identifiable support for the site's trustworthiness.
- They claim that your fee includes a guarantee that if you don’t qualify for a “free program” you will get a refund right away. They do not define what qualifies as a “free program” and you must send them a “denial letter” from the funder who turns you down. However, grant makers do not necessarily send a rejection to every applicant. And America’s Got Funding just says you’ll “qualify” for something — that just means you’re eligible to apply, not that you will receive funding.
- The offer of a guarantee is reassuring but note that they only claim to refund your money if you are turned down for a grant for which you are eligible. Eligibility is often subject to interpretation and you have no recourse if there is nothing for which you qualify.
- The site provides no useful information if you do not provide personal information and payment.
Most notably, the Better Business Bureau gives this outfit a rating of F (on a scale of A+ to F). They have had 12 complaints filed against them with the BBB over the past three years. The majority were relatively recent, having been closed in the past year. Many of the complaints concerned issues regarding the company's product or service. Three of the complaints had to do with billing and collection. While it was noted that the company did make good faith efforts to close most of the complaints, there was one compaint to which they failed to respond. It was also noted that some users were not satisfied with the way in which their complaint was resolved.
Some reviewers claimed that the Better Business Bureau automatically gives an F rating to businesses that simply refuse to join and pay their “exorbitant fees”. This simply isn't so and the BBB would be taken to court if they did that. The rating – which was issued when the site was a member – is based on the number of complaints received, the types of complaints received, and the failure to address one of the complaints satisfactorily. If you want to try it out check out our experiences notes in our March 2017 update. It would appear that if you join and then request to cancel your subscription you might be offered a less expensive monthly rate.
Our online searches for comments and reviews regarding this business yielded only negative results. It is true that people are more likely to publicize complaints than praise. However, there are so many opportunities these days to encourage positive feedback and sharing of information it might be considered unusual that a company would not take adventage of them. We did not find any Facebook page for this company and no Google +1 currently appears on their site to allow readers to share comments or to reflect positive experience with a thumbs up.
To conclude we would strongly caution you to avoid the America's Got Funding website. Check out our article on the top ten things you should know about grants (for free) and you'll be ahead of the game!