The FTC Is Watching Out For You

I recently received an email from the Assistant Director in the Consumer & Business Education at the Federal Trade Commission (who knew they read my blog?), informing me about a new resource to help you and me avoid charity fraud. I thought this was a great resource and wanted to share some of it here.

From the FTC Charity Fraud website:

A flyer in the mail, a phone call, a personalized email — everyone receives requests for donations in one form or another. Many legitimate charities use telemarketing, direct mail, email and online ads to ask for contributions. Unfortunately, scam artists also use these techniques to pocket your money. If someone asks for a donation, take your time and familiarize yourself with the charity:

  • 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. 

Simply having the words police, firefighter or veteran in an organization’s name doesn’t mean that these groups will benefit from the money raised. If you want to give to one of these causes, use a charity that has a good track record. Charities that pop up overnight can disappear just as quickly.

For more specific information, check out the FTC’s tips for supporting the troops.

You should also know the warning signs of a scam:

  • High pressure pitches. Reject them: It’s okay 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. 

For more detailed information about charity donations, read Charitable Donations: Give or Take.

Many thanks to Mr. Woods for bringing these resources to our attention.

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