by Sana Chriss
Attorney, Southeast Region, Federal Trade Commission

Have you heard about a government program that will pay your monthly bills for an up-front payment or processing fee? Here’s a short version of the rest of this post: It’s a scam. Don’t do it.

We’ve heard that this scam is happening in some African-American church communities: people approach church-goers with this so-called deal. And, because it comes up in church, the scam might seem like it could be legit. But take it from me – and the FTC: there is no federal program that pays your monthly bills in exchange for payment of any kind.

What really happens if you pay these scammers? They look real for a minute because they “pay your bills” electronically – but then they cancel the payment. You think your bill is paid, but you’re stuck with not only the original bill, but also a late fee because your payment wasn’t actually processed. And now the scammers have your bank or credit information. Doesn’t sound like much of a deal at all.

If you need help paying bills, or know someone who does, there are some legitimate government sites that can connect you with programs that help with things like medical bills and energy services for people who are eligible. But they won’t ask you to pay them. Also check out how to make a budget or find a credit counselor who can help you manage your money.   back...
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