The Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) is warning small businesses to be aware of companies offering to find government grants on their behalf, usually for a fee.
While not illegal, the information small businesses receive is actually available for free from www.business.gov.au
Small Business Commissioner David Eaton said the SBDC had received numerous calls about the practice in the past 12 months.
“The websites promoting these services pay to rank highly in Google and other search engines for key words such as ‘Australian Government grants’,” he said.
“Small businesses seeking information about grants click on these sites and speak to a sales representative who says for $650, on average, the company will find the perfect grant for the business and guarantee them government money.
“Once the small business pays for the service, it receives an email with a PDF attachment that details every grant available in Australia at the time.
“But often this information is pulled directly from www.business.gov.au and isn’t tailored to suit the specific business – the small business ends up receiving the same generic details.”
Mr Eaton said the sales pitch is often very strong with misleading information given to secure the sale.
“The sales people claim to be government representatives and, in some cases, have been known to say ‘you can trust us’,” he said.
“The websites look professional and legitimate but provide very basic information – the aim is to encourage people to phone so a sale can be made.
“We have heard from several small business operators about this and it can only be described as deceptive conduct.”
Search the Grant Finder
This is a free online tool for locating the grants, assistance and funding programs most relevant to your business. You can search for grants in many categories, which are available from the Australian, state and territory governments and also from some local councils.