For many, the last quarter of the year is often the most important for charities in terms of the volume of anticipated donations.
According to the Better Business Bureau, along with a rise in charitable giving comes an increase of charity fraud.
How a Charity Scam Works
An unsolicited call shows up on the Caller ID from someone claiming to be representing a nonprofit organization. In some cases, the “charity” has a name that includes a law enforcement word (“police,” “trooper,” etc.). There are plenty of variations on this scam. The caller explains that the goal of this nonprofit is to help keep police officers, their families, or even police dogs safe.
The organization’s goals may seem noble, but then you learn the contributions are not tax-deductible and no information is available on the organization’s president, board members and active chapters. According to tax records, only a small fraction of donations made to the organization actually support law enforcement officers.
This is just one example of how fundraisers can look and sound like a charity, but it’s scammers way of getting your credit card information and a donation.
To avoid disappointment, BBB recommends the following tips for donors.
• Watch out for charity name confusion. Be alert to questionable groups seeking to confuse donors with names that sound similar to charities you know.
• Resist pressure to give on the spot. Don’t give in to excessive pressure on the phone to make an immediate donation.
• Find out more about the charity. The charity’s website provides access to information on its programs, board roster and finances. Groups may also be verified through government registration. About 40 of the 50 states in the U.S. require charities to register with the attorney general’s office or secretary of state’s office.
• Watch out for vague program descriptions. Be alert for overly emotional charitable appeals that say little about what the charity intends to do to address the problems identified.
Send your scam story to: email@example.com, or call 507-831-3455. Stories will appear in an upcoming edition and in a Thursday website report. By sharing your story, you may prevent others from being scammed.
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