GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) - There are many opportunities to provide help during the year. However, beware of some of the scams that come in disguise of charitable giving. You may be aware of some of the scams – identity theft is a major concern for many people, and some seniors are particularly vulnerable to fraud involving Medicare and Social Security information. But other scams are less well known. Charity fraud, for example, is one way scam artists attempt to get money from you.
Chances are, at some point you probably have received a letter from a charity asking you to make a donation for a worthy cause. You might have even received a phone call asking you to pledge your support for one organization or another. A large number of reputable charities use telemarketing, direct mail and online fundraising to solicit donations, but beware: Fraudsters can use some of these same methods to trick you.
Be on the lookout for some of the following red flags – they could be a sign you're being targeted for charity fraud:
• A high-pressure pitch – If you feel you're being over-pressured into making a donation, simply hang up the phone.
• Cash requests – Real charities accept all forms of payment. If you're asked to make a cash donation, odds are it's a scam.
• An unexpected thank you – If you don't remember supporting a particular cause, you probably didn't. Don't be fooled into trusting someone just because they thank you for your previous support.
• A chance to win – A guaranteed sweepstakes win in exchange for a donation is a sure sign that the "charity" you're speaking to isn't on the level.
Another trick fraudsters use to part you from your money is to create a fake charity around a recent tragic event like a natural disaster, or a non-specific group like firefighters, police or veterans. Donating resources to relief efforts takes infrastructure that most overnight charities simply don't have. Other organizations already have dedicated, well-known groups that raise money for them.
There are a few steps you can take to make sure you're dealing with a real charity. Start off by finding out everything you can – the charity's name, its address, contact information and any written info you can get. You can also check with the National Association of State Charity Officials to see if a particular charity has been registered with the proper authorities.
All topics for informational purposes only and are not intended to provide legal advisement.
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