Before retiring I managed a local branch of an international Charity. This of course means I know very well how legitimate charities operate. On the flip side it also means I’m very aware of charity scams.
To many people donating so others can also enjoy a good Christmas is simply part of the Christmas season. Scammers take full advantage of this generosity by pretending to be collecting for Charities at Christmas, often successfully. Think twice before giving . Very few Charities have the resources to go door-to-door or make telephone calls. If approached this way there is a strong possibility it’s a scam.
Let’s stop supporting their fraudulent activities. Knowing how to identify legitimate Charities and having a fail-proof way to make donations will go a long way to ensuring your donated funds go where you want them to.
Scammers often target the elderly, which I find particularly disturbing. If you know an elderly person, especially someone who lives on their own and who could be taken in, please discuss this with them.
Charity Scams Popular Causes:
Charity scams often use the following causes simply because we find it hard to say no to causes that benefit:
- Families at Christmas
- The homeless
- Current catastrophes like earthquakes, health epidemics, refugees etc.
The simplest way to make sure you do not get caught by scammers is to check out the Charity:
- Get the name of the Charity along with the charitable registration number – if this can’t be provided there should never be a donation;
- Obtain address and phone number from the Charity’s website. If you have any questions, call the Charity and ask. Legitimate charities know all about donor concerns and will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
NEVER use a number provided by the solicitor but always check the Charity’s website for mailing address and phone number.
Things to watch for:
- Being asked for the donation in cash. Legitimate charities actually prefer cheques or online donations because both leave a paper trail which is important.
- Being thanked for making a pledge you don’t remember making and being presented with a bill for the so-called pledged amount. Don’t pay it!! Instead take the bill to the nearest police station and let them deal with it.
- Scammers may use names that are similar to legitimate Charities. If something doesn’t sound or feel right, place a direct call to the Charity to ask if they are soliciting in your neighbourhood.
Fail-proof way to make donations:
- Mail your cheque directly to the Charity along with a cover letter; If the Charity has a local branch you wish to support, mail the check directly to the branch, again with a cover letter;
- OR go to the Charity’s Website to make an online donation.
Click on the links below to find out more about the legitimacy and accountability of any Charity:
Or google the Name and Address of the Charity adding the word ‘scams’, ‘fraud’ or ‘complaints and see what comes up.
Saying NO during this season really doesn’t hurt legitimate charities, after all they need funds all year round. Your donation will be just as welcome in February as in December. The exception of course would be Christmas requests, such as the Salvation Army Christmas Fund or the Emergency Services Toy/Food Drives.
No doubt there will always be scammers looking for an easy dollar. However, by being alert to common charity scams you can go a long way to prevent those dollars from being yours.
Talk to you again next week,
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Scam Alert: Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Charity: Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net