DISASTER CHARITY SCAMS Good Intentions – Bad Outcome
Beware of disaster charity scams! Fraudsters – posing as reputable Charitable Organizations – have been out in full force to trick you into making donations, to help victims of disasters.
Criminals always take advantage of kind-hearted, well-intentioned people who want to help after a disaster makes headline news. All of us need to be vigilant, because disaster charity scams will always appear to be totally legitimate.
Disaster Charity Scams normally start with unsolicited contacts in several ways. The scammer will contact their possible victim by telephone, social media, email solicitations, or at your door.
Then scammers use a variety of tried-and-proven tactics to lure information out of people. Donors should not give out personal financial information to anyone who solicits a contribution. This includes things like Social Security #, passwords or credit card and bank account numbers. You must always do your homework first.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Thieves pretend they are from a familiar sounding charity. Their goal is to get money or personal financial information from unsuspecting donors.
- Bogus websites use names that are the same name or a similar name of a legitimate charity. Emails that appear to come from a real charity will always provide a link that will take you to a fraudster’s bogus website.
- Scammers may even try to get you to provide your social security number, claiming they need it for your receipt or for tax reporting. This is a falsehood! Never give a charity your SS#.
- Always go directly to the source when making a charitable donation. Don’t trust strangers at your door, telemarketers on the phone or emails with links that will lead you to a fake charity website that appears legitimate.
- Always contribute by check or credit card to have a record of your donation. Never make a donation with cash, a pre-paid debit card, bank wire, or an iTunes or Amazon gift card.
- You can check out whether a charity is legitimate by going to www.charitynavigator.org or www.charitywatch.org If the charity is not on the list, then beware!
- Scammers may even claim to be working for ― or on behalf of ― the IRS. The thieves tell disaster victims they can help them file casualty loss claims to get big tax refunds.
- The IRS website allows taxpayers to use their Tax Exempt Organization Search to help find or verify qualified charities. Donations to these qualified charities may be tax-deductible.
- Contact any organization you’re considering, and ask for the charity’s address, phone number and financial records. Consider how much of your donation will go to the program you want to support, and how much will cover administrative costs. Legitimate groups will gladly provide information about their mission and how your donation will be used. If a charity is unwilling to provide you with such information, be suspicious!