ACCC Issues Public Warning Notice Over Conduct Of Australian Business Funding Centre
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has today issued a public warning notice about the conduct of Australian Business Funding Centre Pty Ltd, alleging it has made false or misleading representations about its service’s capability and quality.
Australian Business Funding Centre (also known as Australian Business Financing Centre or ABFC) operates the website www.australiangovernmentgrants.org.
“The ACCC alleges that ABFC website, and its sales representatives, purport to offer access to an online database of the Australian government grants and loans available to small businesses,” the ACCC states. “Small business owners paid fees ranging from $497 to $701 to access the database, only to find there were no suitable grants or that they were ineligible for grants listed.”
The warning notice “alleges ABFC has made false or misleading representations about the service’s capability and quality, and the role the service has played in assisting small businesses gain government grant funding”.
The ACCC states that the website prominently features a range of “success stories” from actual Australian small businesses, however when contacted by the ACCC, the businesses said that the stories were used without their permission, with the businesses not having obtained any government funding via ABFC.
Despite australiangovernmentgrants.org including an Australian address, the ACCC states that it is operated by ABFC’s sole director, who is based overseas.
ACCC acting chair Dr Michael Schaper stated that the ACCC is “very concerned that small businesses are paying ABFC for a service that does not provide the information and assistance” that they have paid for.
“Similar websites targeting small businesses in other countries have also come to the attention of regulatory authorities in New Zealand and Canada,” Schaper commented.
“Small businesses should take care when assessing offers to assist them in obtaining government grants. The bottom line is that information relating to government grants is generally available free-of-charge from a variety of state and federal resources online.”
The ACCC advises that legitimate government grants information can be obtained for free at www.business.gov.au and other websites ending with .gov.au.