Calamities often bring out the worst in people. During the Covid Era, there are so many in need that some stoop to doing things, like setting up a fake charity, to get money. They might not have considered this during better times. We must all learn to Spot (and Report) the Fake Charities that emerge. These can be created because of Covid, The California Fires, Flooding in Florida and Louisiana or recent Hurricanes etc.
Charity scams may go into full effect even before the Hurricane season. For instance, thousands of new websites with “Sandy/Katrina” or “Relief” for instance, or related keyword search terms in them, had been registered, many by scammers before the Hurricanes hit. We know the name of the upcoming Hurricane early in the year and it is easy to register that name.
Unfortunately, tragedies often inspire people to dig deep and give to those in need without checking them out. We see an outpouring of generosity during these challenging times. During the Covid epidemic, Catastrophic Fires, Hurricanes or Earthquakes, we are all more inclined to help our fellow man. Thus we may fall for one of dozens of phony charities. If you don’t recognize the charity, don’t donate to them until you check them out.
We must all learn to CHECK OUT these new charitable organizations. The charity names and reputations can be vetted at Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and Guide Star. To investigate a charity you can also go to Calif Charity Regulator and NASCO (National Assoc of State Charity Officials). You should also consider checking the website of the charity and learn about their mission and what percent of the money goes to charity.
If/when you spot a scam charity, report it to the FTC or state charity regulator through nasconet.org. That is the only way to try to protect the next guy. OpenSecrets.org is another site to see if the charity is really a charity, and to confirm they give the money to those in need.
Don’t just accept this new charity. You would be wise to assume an unsolicited donation request by email or phone is a scam. Initially you should consider EXAMINING THE WEB ADDRESS. Remember that legitimate nonprofits organizations end in .org, not .com.
Don’t click on photos that may unload malware. IF THERE IS A REQUEST FOR MONEY, BE SMART… Don’t give out information. Don’t agree to having a courier come to your home to pick up the money. Instead ask to have them mail printed information to you. If they don’t have your address, do not give it to them. WE ALL WANT TO BE SURE THE MONEY GOES TO THE CHARITY.
Other “checkup sites” to consider: OpenSecrets.org, to see if the charity is really a charity and that they give money out: The Center for Responsive Politics, The Charity Navigator and Charity Watch, which all rate organizations. In addition Guide Star is a charity regulator. The AARP Fraud Watch helpline at 877 908 3360 is also a good source for Scam info.
The IRS maintains an online database, where you can check whether an organization is a registered charity and if your donation will be tax deductible. Suspected charity frauds should be reported to the FTC Federal Trade Commission).
Consider the major reporting agencies below.
Equifax 1-800 525 6285: to place a fraud alert 888 766 0008. To order a credit report call 800 685 1111
Experian (formerly TRW 1-888 397 3742 to place fraud alert. To order a credit report call 888 397 3742
Trans Union 1-800 680 7289 to place a Fraud alert. To order a credit report call 800 888 4213
Social Security Administration (fraud line) 1-800 269 0271
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