NYS DCP offers tips on how to avoid charity scams | So Good News


Friday, Nov 18, 2022 10:30 am

Fraud is especially common during natural disasters or emergencies

Provided by the New York State Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection

The New York State Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) wants to raise awareness about charity scams. Donations of any kind can have a positive impact on a good cause, which is why charity scams are so cruel. Unfortunately, criminals never miss an opportunity to steal from people, so it’s important to remember that not all solicitations are legitimate. The division has created this quick guide to help donors act quickly on donors seeking their support.

“After a major event such as a natural disaster, disaster, or when the season of giving is happening, fraudsters take advantage of people’s good intentions and take money that could help people and programs that are in need,” said Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez. “To make sure that donations go to the right place, we encourage New Yorkers to research and verify the information before donating.”

Charity fraud can happen at any time, but it is most common after a natural disaster or emergency, collecting millions of dollars from unexpected donors. Most of the time, these fraudsters pretend to be in well-known organizations or even the government in order to rob people of their hard-earned money. According to the Federal Trade Commission approximately 2.8 million people nationwide were allegedly victimized by someone pretending to be a trusted charity source in 2021, resulting in a loss of approximately $2.3 billion.

In order to prevent your money from falling into the wrong hands, DCP recommends the following:

√ Check the charity’s accreditation. Research a charity by searching the directory of New York State registered charity attorneys at charitiesnys.com, and by visiting websites such as bbb.org, www.give.org and www.guidestar.org, in addition to visiting the charity’s website. . If you donate during a natural disaster, check out sites like disasterphilanthropy.org to make sure your money is actually helping those in need.

√ Learn how to spot fraudulent charities. Some scammers create fake “organizations” and try to trick you with similar names of well-known organizations. Pay attention to the charity’s name, web address, logos, etc. Scammers often use the names of well-known, trustworthy organizations to trick donors.

√ Select your donation. Find out how much of your donation can go directly to your cause rather than operating expenses. Ask a charity if you can make your donation work for a specific cause instead of a general donation. If the request is from a professional fundraiser for a benefit, be aware that the charity will receive a portion of your donation. If you want to make sure the charity receives all the money, donate directly instead.

√ Beware of vague statements. Watch out for language like “all proceeds go to charity” or “your purchases will benefit charity.” A disclosure must be made that includes the actual or estimated purchase price that the charity will directly receive.

√ Avoid high speed tactics. Charity scams can come in many forms, whether it’s email, social media, crowdfunding platforms, cold calls, etc. Beware of direct mail from “victims” and lawyers who use hurtful stories, insisting that you submit immediately. It is highly recommended that you do not give money over the phone to unsolicited telemarketers, and instead ask the caller to send a written note about the charity.

√ Find out who is behind the crowdfunding request. Online platforms like GoFundMe make it easy for people to create fundraising campaigns. To protect yourself, remember to give to people you know directly. It’s also important to understand the crowdfunding site’s rules, policies, and procedures. It would be useful to know this in advance so that you know how they are protecting consumers from possible fraud.

√ Do not disclose personal or financial information to unwanted applications. Do not provide your Social Security number, credit or debit card number or other personal information in response to an unsolicited charity request.

√ Avoid giving money. Make your donation by check or credit card to ensure that you have a record of the donation. Make checks to the service provider, not to the individual. If you choose to donate through a charity’s website, make sure the website is secure and that your computer has the latest anti-virus protection. Do not send donations by “runner,” by wire or overnight package.

√ Don’t think. Check the organization’s tax status at irs.gov/app/eos to find out if the donation is tax deductible. Request a receipt and check the status of your donation.

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection provides resources and educational tools for consumers on product safety, as well as voluntary mediation services between consumers and businesses. The customer service number 1-800-697-1220 is available from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm weekdays, excluding public holidays. Consumer complaints can be filed at any time at www.dos.ny.gov/consumer-protection.

For more information on consumer protection, follow the social media channels on Twitter @NYSConsumer and Facebook (www.facebook.com/nysconsumer).


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