When we hear from a charity or other nonprofit organization we often feel moved to give a donation and provide assistance to someone in need. What is it that creates this feeling? It’s our humanity. It is a natural feeling to want to help others, it can be somewhat emotional and very gratifying to know that you have made a difference in your community or to someone across the globe. But only if it was a legitimate charity…chances are it could be a scam!
There are so many different types of charitable scams, because they mimic actual charities. For example, right after any type of natural disasters (flooding, hurricanes, etc) these scams increase, after news stories on our troops we see military themed charity calls on the rise, and of course the reoccurring types like children charities, medical related organizations, protecting the environment, animal rescue and so on.
Here are a few tips to consider:
Don’t fall for the “Can we count on your donation again this year?” line.Request that the charity send you last year’s financial reports.Ask the caller if he/she is paid for solicitation or a volunteer.Research the organization to confirm addresses and if they are currently running a campaign.Know that real charities often sign contracts with professional fundraising businesses.Often professionals take a large percentage of your donation for themselves (60%+up).Check with PA Department of State, Bureau of Charities if the charity is registered.Give contributions locally to groups you can verify.Only donate after checking on the charity’s administrative expenses.You should know if the organization sells or trades your information to other groups.Scammers are known to often lose their temper and make threats if you refuse to cooperate.Always remember to think about the financial obligations you already have before you offer a donation.When being asked for your donation, by phone, mail, online or in person never provide personal information or payment until you are sure who you are dealing with.
We also would like to remind you that the free gifts that are often mailed to you usually have very little value, the address labels, bookmarks, coins and other items are sent to make you feel guilty for receiving the gift and to motivate you to give your donation. Don’t fall for it!
This article has been written to provide basic information to warn the public about common fraud and scams by the Pennsylvania Crime Prevention Officers’ Association (PCPOA) a non-profit 501c(3) In cooperation with Crime Alert Berks County. For more information please visit our website at www.PaCrimePrevention.org