Beware of Charity and Relief Scams
Don't be a victim of a fake charity.
In our desire to help anybody in need after a disaster or tragedy, we want to give aid and comfort. But sometimes all we are comforting is a cyber criminals’ bank account. Scams and financial fraud can come as requests for relief donations through emails, phone calls, social media and online ads. There are steps you can take, however, to ensure your donation ends up with the right charity and in the hands that truly need it.
Research the organization:
- Search for the relief cause you want to support and research ratings for charitable organizations
- Check out the charitable organization on how they conduct business. Use these sites to find reports and ratings about how charitable organizations spend donations:
Be careful how you pay:
- Pay by check or credit card. These financial tools are easily tracked and transactions may be canceled if fraud happens.
- Do not use cash, gift cards, or wire money – favorite tools of scammers.
- Keep a record or receipt of your donation and make sure it matches the amount taken out of your account.
- Before clicking on a donate link or button, know that it goes to a legitimate organization and they are getting your donation.
Know the tricks of a scammer:
- Don’t give into pressure to rush a donation.
- Scammers often use vague and emotional claims or will even thank you for your donation before you give one to them.
- Scammers can change the caller ID to indicate a local number to gain your trust.
- Guaranteeing sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a donation is a scam and it’s illegal.
- Some scammers use names that sound like legitimate charities. If you have any doubts, it’s another reason to research the company you are giving to.
Remember, not all donations are tax-deductible. You can search to find out if your donation is tax-deductible for any organization at the IRS’s Tax-Exempt Organization Search.
If you still have questions about any organization or group asking for donations, you can inquire with your state charity regulator, found at The National Association of State Charity Officials (nasconet.org). Most states require the charity or its fundraiser to register before asking for donations. In Kansas, charitable organizations, professional fundraisers, and solicitors working for charities (with some exemptions) are required to register with the Kansas Office of the Attorney General-Consumer Protection Division prior to soliciting donations in Kansas.