Avoiding Holiday Charity Scams

Reported by: Melanie Kendall
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Updated: 11/05/2013 12:03 am

As the sugar rush from Halloween wears off, the Better Business Bureau reminds everyone to be aware of charity donation scams.

The BBB says most con artists will use electronic media, either phone calls or the computer, for scams.

“It's easiest for them to hide behind, run scams on social media sites and Twitter and Facebook and they can hide where they're calling from on the telephone,” said Heather Clary with the Better Business Bureau.

Tips to Avoid Scams:

  1. Never give your credit card number or other personal financial information to unknown callers
  2. Ask who’s calling – if the call is from a telemarketing company, ask what percentage of your gift the charity will receive
  3. Get the name straight – many organizations raising money for the same cause have names similar enough to confuse donors, sometimes intentionally
  4. Ask for specifics about the charity – the caller should be able to tell you the organization’s purpose, whether contributions to it are tax deductible, how a gift will be used and how much of it will go to the charity’s program.
  5. Resist pressure – a responsible charity respects your right to make a thoughtful decision
  6. Be wary of heart-wrenching appeals- what matters is what the charity is doing to help
  7. Check websites for basics – a charity’s mission, program and finances should be available on its site
  8. Check with state charity officials- in many states, charities are required to register, usually with the office of the attorney general, before soliciting
  9. Opt out of future call – the national Do Not Call Registry does not generally apply to charity calls but you have the right to ask a telemarketer not to call again on behalf of a particular charity

If you decide to donate, Clary says to write a check to the organization, not the person asking for money, or use a credit card.

“You generally have some recourse, dispute mechanisms that you can utilize with your credit card provider if something turns out not to be,” said Clary.

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