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Beware of scams
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recently learned of several attempted scams involving borrowers of Direct Rural Development home loans or applicants for federal assistance. Most involve requests for Social Security numbers, bank account information, or other Personally Identifiable Information (PII). These scams have been reported to the Agriculture Security Operations Center and to the Office of the Inspector General.
In one scam, a company defrauded an applicant out of $2,500. The company charged the applicant this money as a “fee” to process his USDA grant application. The company offered no assistance to the applicant and did not work with the field office on behalf of the applicant. The applicant eventually contacted Rural Development and was informed that there is no charge for submitting a grant application and that he lived in an ineligible area to receive the grant.
The Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas also informed its members of a USDA Farm Service Agency scam.
The caller, who identifies themselves as a Farm Loan Services representative out of Washington, D.C., states that the Farm Service Agency “owes” the person disaster-assistance funds and proceeds to request your checking account information or requests a credit card number alleging that funds will be credited to these accounts.
Never respond to unsolicited calls or emails regarding existing loans, and do not provide PII information when inquiring about federal assistance.
If someone has received a suspicious inquiry, or has reason to believe a solicitation is a scam, immediately contact the Rural Development Incident Response Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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