When any disaster or crisis – including the current global pandemic – occurs, people jump into action to help those impacted by the event. Scammers choose to take advantage of that giving spirit, which is why many people are susceptible to charitable giving scams in times of crisis. Scammers look to take advantage of other’s good deeds and turn it into a personal gain for themselves – both financially and by getting access to personally identifiable information.
That is exactly what has happened during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, according to Dayton Daily News, scammers have been going door-to-door in Dayton, Ohio posing as The Dayton Foundation. Scammers have been trying to sell coupon books that claim people’s donations will go towards the fight against COVID-19. It is one of many charitable giving scams.
However, there are things people can do to reduce their risk of falling for a charitable giving scam.
1. When giving to any non-profit, people should only give to trusted sources. This way they will know their donation will not fall into the hands of a scammer. If someone does not recognize the name of a charity that is soliciting funds, they should be cautious.
2. Legitimate donations can be made on a cell-phone. However, scammers can also send out texts that look real. People should find the charity they want to donate to and initiate the contact.
3. People should do their research before giving. Charities can be investigated through the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.
The Federal Trade Commission has also recommended people conduct Google searches like “best charity” or “highly-rated charity” to help decipher the real ones from the fake ones.
4. People should ask the charities for information about their mission, goals and history – including requesting their 990-form. If they are unable to answer those questions, they are probably part of a charitable giving scam. Any legitimate non-profit organization should be able to answer people’s questions about their organization and their giving guidelines.
5. Donors should beware of the scammer’s tricks. They will often try to rush people to make their donations and will use names that are similar to existing charities. Fake organizations might also try to tell people their donation is tax-deductible when it is not.
If people have questions regarding charitable giving scams, they are encouraged to contact the Identity Theft Resource Center through the website to live chat with an expert advisor.
For those that cannot access the website, they can call the toll-free hotline (888.400.5530) and leave a message for an advisor. While the advisors are working remotely, there may be a delay in responding but someone will provide assistance as quickly as possible.
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