Do Your Research Before Donating to Avoid Scams
If you’re looking to make a donation this season, be very
aware of who you are sending the check to. While there are plenty of legitimate
charities doing work to help people in need – there are also scammers using
charity as a front.
Michelle Reinen from the Department of Ag, Trade, and
Consumer Protection says it can be hard to differentiate the real from the
fake because “they
sound like legitimate charities, play off the names of legitimate charities.
They make phone calls, they claim to be raising money for veterans, whether
it’s to provide services or goods or housing assistance – and yet they aren’t
legitimate charities. They don’t take the money in and allocate it as they
indicate they will during that phone call.”
Reinen adds that “they use every ploy that they can, and what happens with some of these is that they say it’s going to be a tax-deductible donation and the consumer makes it, but in the end it’s not. So this could have an implication on you beyond just the giving that you’ve done, but the tax deduction claim that isn’t legitimate as well.”
She recommends taking a closer look at any organization you may plan to send a donation, just to make sure they are legitimate.
Reinen tells us “we want to make sure consumers do their research before they give. Remember if you get a phone call, it’s unsolicited and out of the blue – and legitimate charities do make those phone calls – but take that moment to do the research. If you’re at all interested, ‘thank you, mail me the information.’ Now you have it all in writing and you can check it against the Department of Financial Institutions to be sure that they’re registered.”