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Public Advisory: Beware of Financial Assistance Scam

Step Forward is receiving reports of an ongoing scam, in which individuals are posing as brokers and deceiving individuals by submitting financial assistance applications on their behalf. The fraudulent brokers appear to be luring clients in with promises of securing financial aid swiftly and easily.


Please note, Step Forward services will never ask you to pay to apply for or receive services. Step Forward services and programs are provided at no cost to eligible residents.


At this time, Step Forward is able to assist renters with security deposits, rental payments and internet services. Those applying will need a valid photo ID, social security numbers for each household member, proof of income for all household members 18 years of age or older for the past 30 days, and documentation of hardship and delinquent bills. Applications for Home Relief Assistance are processed first-come, first-serve. We encourage everyone interested in this emergency assistance to apply sooner than later, as the portal will intermittently close to process the high volume of applications. Due to the high volume of requests, this online portal is the only method of applying for Home Relief Assistance with Step Forward.


If any fraudulent information is discovered during Step Forward’s application process, it is cause for denial and further investigation.


To safeguard yourself from falling victim to this scam, we suggest that potential clients verify the legitimacy of any “broker” or assistance program. Be especially cautious of anyone promising guaranteed approval for financial assistance, as legitimate applications are subject to review and there are no guarantees of acceptance. Avoid sharing personal information, identification documents, or financial details with unknown individuals or unverified platforms. Always apply for financial assistance through authorized agency channels. Avoid third-party intermediaries unless you are sure of their credibility. Finally, if something feels suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is.


If you suspect that you have encountered a financial assistance scam or have been a victim of one, please report it immediately.


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About Step Forward

Step Forward helps people find hope, believe in their future and take steps to make it a reality. As the state’s designated anti-poverty agency for Cuyahoga County, Step Forward is tasked and trusted to lead the fight on the ground against poverty in our community. The nonprofit organization helps low-income individuals and families address immediate needs and build long-term skills to transform their lives through early childhood education programs, adult skills training and other support. Programs include Early Head Start (birth to three), Head Start (three-five years of age), personal development programs to enhance life skills, and career planning and job training to learn or enhance skills and earn certifications. Step Forward also delivers the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). For more information, visit stepforwardtoday.org. 

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