How to spot a bogus charity
Legitimate charitable organizations serve a vital role in our
community and deserve our support. But how can you be sure that your donation isn't going into some crook's pocket?
The truth is that not all charities operate with charitable
intentions. Some charities are nothing more than scams designed to take your
money with phony claims of helping the needy. Unfortunately, it's not always
easy to distinguish between legitimate fundraisers and unscrupulous
solicitors who misrepresent themselves and mislead the public in order to
line their own pockets.
Not only do con artists try to play on your sympathy, generosity and
giving spirit. But their scams also steer money away from real charitable
causes and make others less likely to help the legitimately needy and less
Here are some warning signs to help you spot a bogus charity:
Be wary of emotional appeals or high-pressure tactics designed to
make you feel guilty about not contributing. No legitimate organizations
will insist that you contribute immediately. Legitimate charities want you
to be sure that you are donating to a worthy cause.
Be wary if you get evasive or vague answers to your questions about
the charity and how the money is used.
Be wary of solicitors who offer to send a courier or "runner" to
pick up your donation. This is a sure sign of a scam. Instead, tell the
solicitor that you want to think about your decision. Or, you can tell them
that you will mail your donation if you decide to give.
Be suspicious of solicitors who say they will only accept your
donation in cash. This, too, is a likely sign of a scam. Con artists want
cash so there will be no paper trail for authorities to follow.
Be suspicious of any charity that is unwilling to provide you with
its annual report and financial statement.
Don't judge a charity based solely on impressive sounding names.
Instead, be careful about copycat organizations that use a name that's
similar to another well-known charity. Often, this is a ploy by a charity to
confuse you and capitalize on the good name of another, better-known
Be suspicious if a charity's mailing address isn't a specific office
or street address.
Be suspicious if a solicitor guarantees that you'll win a prize if
you make a donation.
Be suspicious if a caller requests that your check be made payable
to an individual rather than a charity or organization.
Be suspicious if a solicitor asks for your credit card, bank account
or Social Security number or other personal financial information over the
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