When Crooks Come Calling

Watch Out For Charity Scams

(FinancialHealth.net) – The phone rings and you’re hoping it is someone you’ve been longing to talk to. Instead, it’s a stranger asking you to donate to a charity. Depending on your financial situation, your first reaction may be to give and use the donation as a tax write-off while doing some good in the world. But what if you’re being scammed? How would you know for sure?

One trick scammers use involves giving you a charity name that sounds “almost” like one you’ve heard of. 

It’s All in the Name
Many fraudulent “charities” hire phone solicitors who are fast talkers for a good reason, to confuse you when they call. Most people have heard of popular charities like the Wounded Warrior Project and the American Cancer Society.

If the phone rings and the caller claims to represent the Wounded Warrior Fund or the U.S. Cancer Society, you could be sidelined by the minor discrepancy. If you are uncertain, have them clearly spell the name and address of the charity or send you a donation form instead of giving over the phone.

Personal Information
Another red flag from a potential scammer is if they want a lot of personal information from you. In some cases, they may not even have your first and last name when they call and will try to siphon even more from you. Asking for things like your social security number and bank account numbers are also red flags.

Copping an Attitude
Fraudulent charities want to swoop in and get your money right away. If they ask for personal info or credit card numbers and you say no, they may get forceful or rude. If you notice the caller getting upset or trying to push you, disconnect the call. There’s a good chance they are not working for your favorite, legitimate charity.

Other Red Flags
Some other warnings that may come up during the conversation include:

  • They are requesting you wire your donation
  • May offer an incentive like a sweepstakes entry to entice you to give more
  • Knows nothing about the charity’s mission statement or where your donation will go
  • Hesitant or won’t give any charity contact information

Before giving to a charity, if you are the least bit uncomfortable about their solicitation call, dig deeper or tell them you want more time to think about it. Most charity cons will want to get your money quickly, so they will try to talk you out of waiting or calling you back.

If you feel rushed simply say you are not interested.

What to Ask
If you’re concerned that the person on the other end of the phone is not representing a valid charity, it’s best to check a few things out first, such as:

  • Their tax-ID number
  • Ask them if they are tax-exempt
  • Ask why they are requesting that you wire your donation

If they are legit, they’ll be able to answer these questions and concerns thoroughly. A reputable charity should not have a problem with you doing a little research first to make sure they check out.

Getting scammed by a bogus organization can not only break your heart but also your bank account. Always check the spelling of words when speaking with a potential charitable organization. If something doesn’t feel right, hang up and contact your favorite charity directly. Being scam savvy ensures funds go where they need to and scam artists are stopped dead in their tracks!

~Here’s to Your Financial Health!

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