Scammers will impersonate genuine charities and then will ask for donations. They may also contact you claiming to collect funds for relief efforts after recent natural disasters.
How The Fake Charity Scam Works
Fake charities will try to take advantage of your compassion and generosity for others who may be in need. By posing as a genuine charity, scammers will try to steal your hard-earned money. Not only will these scams cost you your money, they will potentially also divert the many needed donations away from legitimate charities and causes.
Fake charity contacts can occur all year round, anywhere, any place. They can often take the form of a response to real disasters or emergencies, such as floods, tornadoes, earthquakes and wild fires. Scammers will then either pose as agents of a legitimate well-known charity or they will actually create their own charity name. This can also include a charity that may conduct medical research or to support disease sufferers and their families. Scammers possibly may also play on your emotions and willingness to help others by claiming to help children who are ill.
Fake charities can operate in a number of different ways. You can be approached at your front door or even on the street by people attempting to collect money. Scammers may also set up fake websites which appear to be similar to those that are operated by real charities. Some scammers will place a phone call to you or email you asking for a donation.
Here Are The Warning Signs
- You have never before heard of the charity. Or it can actually be a well-known charity, however you suspect that the website, email or letter you received may be fake. A fake website can appear close to identical to a legitimate charity website. The scammer will change only the details of where you send the donations.
- The person who is collecting the donations on behalf of the charity does not have proper identification. It is important to remember that even if they do have identification, it could be forged or fake.
- The collector will apply pressure or you will be made to feel guilty or selfish if you do not want to make a donation.
- You are asked to give a cash donation or to wire money, as they do not accept checks. Or if they do accept checks, they ask for it to be made out to them personally, rather than to the actual charity.
- You are not offered or given a receipt. Or if they do give you a receipt, it does not have the charity’s details or specifics on it.
How To Protect Yourself
- You should approach or reach out to charity organizations directly to make a donation or to offer your support.
- Check the organization’s name and information. Ask for detailed information about the charity including their name, their address, and their telephone number. You can call the charity directly and verify if the solicitation can be verified.
- Legitimate charities are registered. You check an organization’s authenticity by contacting the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
- You should never send money or give personal information. Also, don’t volunteer credit card details or online account details to anyone you don’t know or trust and never do so by email.
- If you are approached by a collector in person, ask the representative the name of the charity they represent and the actual percentage of your donation that will go to the charity. You should also ask for details about the charity such as its full name, their physical address, and how the proceeds will be used. If they become defensive and cannot answer your questions, quickly terminate the conversation.
- Avoid any agreement with someone who may be asking for an up-front payment. It could be by money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded debit card or some type of electronic currency. The scammer uses these methods as they know that it is usually impossible to recover the funds after the fact.
If You Have Been Scammed
If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, you should first contact your bank or financial institution immediately to freeze and/or change your account numbers.
Lastly, you are encouraged to report scams to:
- Your state consumer protection office will accept and investigate consumer complaints.
- You can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). While the FTC will not resolve individual matters, it will track charity fraud claims and will sue companies on the behalf of consumers.
- If the suspected fraud is related to a natural disaster, you can contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud.
- Although the Do Not Call Registry doesn’t apply to charities, you have the right to ask an organization not to contact you in the future.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Hopefully it provided helpful information that you will be able to use. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to leave them below. Also, if you know of any other scams, please include them in your comments and I will be glad to investigate.