be fooled by charity scammers
always been altruistic, quick to respond to victims' needs and ready to lend a
helping hand or much-needed cash. Unfortunately, scam artists know this charitable
trait well and often are waiting with a con to cheat both givers and recipients.
schemes come through the mail, via telephone and e-mail, and by knocks at the
door. While many legitimate organizations, such as the Red Cross and the Salvation
Army, collect for well-deserved and Internal Revenue Service-approved causes,
you need to be alert to scam artists.
Here's how to make sure
your heartfelt donations go to the right cause:
be rushed. Do not feel pressured to make an immediate commitment -- "deadlines"
are a characteristic of a scam. Ask the caller or e-mail sender to provide written
information on the charity's programs and finances before you make a contribution
Ask questions. Who
does this contribution assist? Does your organization intend to meet immediate
or long-term needs of those victimized by this tragedy, or both? How much goes
to victims? How much goes to administration? Even newly established charities
should have written material available describing their programs, anticipated
expenditures and how they will carry out activities.
it in writing. Always ask for and wait until you receive written material
about any offer or charity. Remember, telephone con artists are skilled at sounding
believable -- even when they're lying. There's no need to rush to a decision.
Verify. Always make an independent
verification of the solicitor's identity before sending a contribution. Call or
write the organization's headquarters. Contact your local charity registration
office (usually an arm of your state's attorney general's office) or the Better
Business Bureau's Wise
Giving Alliance to confirm.
on to your cash. Do not pay with cash. Use a check and make it out to the
organization, not the individual collecting the donation.
stingy with personal information. Do not give your credit card account
information over the telephone or online. Always check out the organization before
giving any personal information. This could be a ruse to obtain the card number
for illegitimate purposes.
authorities. If you cannot verify an organization or you are suspicious
of the solicitation, contact the police or the FBI.