Scam charities aren’t a new thing. Fortunately, they aren’t that common. With that being said, education is still the number one way to protect against fraud. Scam charities often crop up after a major tragedy takes place, such as a mass shooting, earthquake, or hurricane. During these times, philanthropic people should conduct plenty of research to ensure that the charity they’re thinking about donating to is a legitimate organization.
However, you should always research any charity you’re thinking about supporting, even if it is a reputable group that has been around forever. You really want to make sure that your hard-earned money will go towards a mission that you support. Additionally, researching an organization can also help you identify some major red flags.
Popular “missions” for scam charities involve supporting veterans and police officers. In Kentucky, for example, police have warned people to be careful of any unsolicited calls from a charity that purports to help officers and their families. The caller seeks immediate donations through wire transfer or prepaid cards, which are difficult to trace. You should avoid these types of solicitations at all costs.
In fact, any time you receive unsolicited contact from a charity, you should be wary. While it’s possible that they’re just using aggressive tactics, there’s also a strong possibility that they’re a fraud. Get the name of the organization, and then see if they have a website where you can donate. In this day and age, there’s no excuse for not having a website, so that’s a good starting point. See what you can find out about them with a simple Web search. If they don’t have a Web presence, chances are that they’re not a real charity.
If you ever do get the impression that you’ve been approached by a scam charity, you should report them to the Federal Trade Commission immediately. The Federal Trade Commission will investigate and determine whether the charity in question is real or not.