Tips On Avoiding Fraudulent Charitable Contribution Schemes
Recently several natural disasters -- including tornados, floods, and earthquakes -- have devastated lives and property. In the wake of these events that have caused emotional distress and great monetary loss to numerous victims, individuals across the nation often feel a desire to help these victims, frequently through monetary donations.
These disasters prompt individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization or a good cause. Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, to include the following:
♦ Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.
Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations, even if they appear to come from familiar organizations.
♦ Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail. Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
♦ Validate the legitimacy of the organization.
You can directly access the recognized charity or aid organization's website (don't follow an alleged link to the site) or request the organization's registration number and check with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance
at 703-276-0100 or give.org
♦ Avoid donating cash if you can. Write a check to the charity -- not the person asking for a donation -- so you have a record of your donation.
♦ Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
Other resources on charitable organiztions:
Or, donate through a local fundraising federation such as the United Way
If you believe you have been a victim of a charity related scheme, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud
* by telephone at (866) 720-5721, by fax at (225) 334-4707, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
. You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the Internet Crime Complaint Center
*National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) was originally established by the Department of Justice to investigate, prosecute, and deter fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud from any natural or man-made disaster. More than 20 federal agencies, including the FBI, participate in the NCDF, allowing it to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to relief fraud.
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