The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on bogus charities, targeting dozens of organizations and individuals across the nation that claim to be raising money for military veterans, firefighters and police officers. In many cases, the money goes to the fundraisers and not the groups needing the money.
Don’t get scammed and let your hard-earned dollars fall into the wrong hands. If someone asks for a donation, take your time and familiarize yourself with the charity by following these steps:
- Ask for the charity’s name, address, and phone number, and written information about its programs.
- Ask whether the person contacting you is a professional fundraiser and how much of your contribution will go to fundraising costs.
- Check the history of the organization with the office that regulates charities in your state. For a list of state offices, visit the National Association of State Charity Officials.
You should also know the warning signs of a scam:
- High-pressure pitches. Reject them: It’s OK to hang up.
- A “thank you” for a pledge you don’t remember making. Be skeptical; scam artists will lie to get your money.
- Requests for cash. Avoid giving cash donations.
- Charities that offer to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect your money.
- Charities that guarantee sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution.
- Charities that spring up overnight, especially those that involve current events like natural disasters, or those that claim to be for police officers, veterans, or firefighters. They probably don’t have the infrastructure to get your donations to the affected area or people.
Still not sure? Here are some Web sites where consumers can check out a charity:
- www.nasconet.org - National Association of State Charity Officials, where you can look up and contact your state’s charities regulator for more information.
- www.guidestar.org - Guidestar
- www.bbb.org/charity – Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance
- www.charitynavigator.org - CharityNavigator
- www.charitywatch.org – American Institute of Philanthropy
Want more info? Check out my tips on giving: