WHAT ARE THE SIGNS THAT THIS IS A SCAM? The charity is not properly registered with the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) as a 501(c)(3) charity, eligible to
receive tax-deductible contributions.
The charity employs high pressure fundraising tactics by: sending
“runners” to pick up contributions from your home, disguising donation requests as a bill and threatening
collection actions for a failure to pay, suggesting you are legally bound to fulfill a pledge,
which you may or may not have committed to make and are
under no obligation to fulfill, employing telemarketers who do not clearly articulate
the name of the charity for which it is soliciting or who
provide vague responses to questions asked by donors, implying a larger percent of your contribution will
support the charity’s programs than is true, or selling typically inexpensive goods for an inflated
price (e.g., a box of garbage bags or light bulbs for a
The charity’s request is long on emotion, but short on details.
The charity fails to provide a current address where its
services are conducted or refuses to provide a roster of its board
of directors, management team, or key employees. The charity uses vague statements to describe its services
(e.g., “we help kids succeed”), and when pressed for details, cannot
or refuses to disclose exactly what services they provide. The charity impatiently responds to requests for more
information about its services or finances, pressuring you to give
without answering all your questions.
HOW CAN DONORS PROTECT THEMSELVES?
Give only when you feel confident.
Legitimate charities will accept your donation whenever you
are ready. Listen to your instincts; make sure all your
questions are answered. Don’t give in to pressure about
suggested donations. Legitimate charities appreciate
donations of any amount, and will not use high-pressure
Be cautious about giving to charities that
represent that 100% of your contribution will support
programs. Today’s costs of operating a charity make
it virtually impossible for a charity to direct 100% of your
contribution to program activities.
Verify that the charity is properly registered
with the IRS to received tax-deductible
contributions by calling 1-800-829-5500 or visiting
Check out the charity with Better Business Bureau
(BBB) by calling 513-421-3015 or visiting
Contact the charity directly to verify
the accuracy of claims made by its fundraiser or
telemarketer. Legitimate charities understand that you are
contributing your hard-earned money, so they will be willing
to assist you by providing as much information as possible
about their charity.
Be wary of every opportunity that presents itself
- especially when it presents itself in the wake of some big
disaster that gets a lot of media attention.
If you are familiar with a particular organization,
call the charity directly to ensure a
campaign is being conducted and the individual at your door
is authorized to collect donations on their behalf.
Fraudulent ID cards are a common practice for scammers.
Do not give cash. It is unlikely you will
be able to recover these funds if stolen. Guard your
credit card number. Call the charity directly – get
their contact information from the phonebook – to make a
contribution using a credit card. Review your billing
statement for any suspicious activity, and dispute
fraudulent charges with your credit card company as soon as
noticed. Never write a check to an individual.
Checks should only be made payable to the charity.
Charity Rating Guide provides information that will help
you in your giving decisions. You can also contact the
charity in which you’re interested directly to determine if
their mission and philosophy match yours.
At the beginning of each year, decide in advance which
charities you’ll be supporting, and how much you’ll be
donating. This will give you time to do your research and
will help you gracefully turn down requests for other
HOW TO REPORT IF YOU’VE BEEN A VICTIM
Better Business Bureau (BBB): You should
also submit a complaint to BBB (513-421-3015 or
www.cincinnati.bbb.org) to report the problem and to
receive assistance with resolving the dispute.
Attorney General: call the Attorney
General’s office in the state in which the charity is
located to file a complaint and seek assistance in resolving
Federal Trade Commission (FTC): call
1-216-263-3455 to notify the FTC division overseeing charity
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3): If
you believe you are the victim of an Internet crime, you may
contact the IC3 at www.ic3.gov. The IC3 is a partnership
between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the
National White Collar Crime Center. Complaints submitted to
the IC3 cover an array of cyber crime and fraud schemes.
For more information on preventing senior scams, visit these
Web sites: Ohio Department of Insurance –
Elderly Insurance Scams
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and U.S.
Department of Justice –
Copyright 2011. Hamilton County Ohio. 138 E. Court Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
Information on this site is for informational purposes only and is believed to be true and accurate. This information should not be considered as legal advice and Hamilton County disclaims any liability for errors or omissions. External links to other sites are intended to supplement information on this website and do not have the endorsement of Hamilton County.