Beware of charity donation scammers during holidays

2012 / CC BY-SA 2.0

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – As the end of the calendar year nears many people are considering making charitable donations.

Some people make donations to improve their tax situations or for other reasons.

No matter the reason for making the donations there are some things to remember and consider before you begin your giving.

The Federal Trade Commission has put together some reminders and warning signs that might keep you from being a victim of fraud.

Charities and professional fundraisers will use the phone, email, internet, personal (face-to-face-) or mobile device to ask for donations.

Scammers will use the same methods to try to get your donation.

There are some things to watch for that could tip off a scam attempt.

  • Be careful of you cannot get detailed information about the identity, mission, costs and how a donation is used
  • You get thanked for a donation you don’t recall making
  • Doesn’t give you time to decide on making your donation and tries to pressure you
  • Asks for immediate payment or cash donations

You can also do some research to make sure the donation will reach the people you intend to help.

  • Always ask for information about the charity, including name, address and telephone number
  • Do some research on the organization, including searching online for the name of the group with the word “complaint” or “scam”.
  • Call the charity directly and make sure the organization is aware of the solicitation attempt
  • Know the difference between “tax exempt” and “tax deductible.” Tax exempt means the organization doesn’t have to pay taxes. Tax deductible means you can deduct your contribution on your federal income tax return.

There are some good online sites you can use to check charities and do some research.

You can reduce telemarketing calls by getting yourself placed on the Do Not Call Registry. That will not eliminate calls because political and charities are exempt. If a caller is representing a group you no longer wish to have contact with you can ask to not have any more calls or contact from that group. If that group continues to contact you the group is subject to fines.

There are steps you can take if you believe you are a victim of a charity scammer. Contact the Federal Trade Commission and file a complaint. By doing that you can help investigators develop a pattern of fraud.

We welcome thoughts and comments from our viewers. We ask that everyone keep their remarks civil and respectful. Postings that contain profanity, racist, or potentially libelous remarks will be deleted. We will delete any commercial postings, as well.

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