Unfortunately, there are people trying to take advantage of your good nature and willingness to help others. Their goal is fraudulent and selfish. They prey on your emotions and try to guilt you into sending money. Find out how to detect these scams along with some steps you can follow to avoid being taken.
Eight warning signs:
1. Email solicitations:
If you have not specifically requested information about making a donation and you receive an email asking for money, chances are it may be a scam.
2. Sound-alike organizations:
Any organization that uses a name very similar to a well-known charity, may be an imposter. Check their credentials before making any contributions.
3. Early thank you:
If you receive a phone call, email or letter thanking you for your pledge or contribution, but you do not remember making one, it is probably a scam. They are hoping you will fall prey by sending money, giving them your credit card or bank information. Don't do it.
4. Courier cash pick up:
If the organization offers to send a courier or overnight delivery service to pick up your cash or check donation, they are a scam and could be even more dangerous if you let them near your house.
5. Bank or credit card Info:
Any organization that tries to get your credit card or bank account information before you agree to making a donation is a scam. Avoid them and contact the authorities.
6. High pressure:
Any telemarketer that uses high pressure tactics to secure donations before you have time to check into their organization, is usually a scam.
7. Police, fire, natural disasters:
Be wary of solicitation for the local police, fire departments or help for victims of natural disasters. There are always scam artists trying to make a quick dollar by taking advantage of your kindness toward public servants and disaster victims.
8. Free means free:
If an organization offers to send a free gift or enter you in a guaranteed sweepstakes in exchange for your donation, they are usually scam artists. They will take your money and provide nothing in return, other than a headache.
Steps to follow:
1. Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance at 1-703-276-0100.
2. Make sure they provide their name, address, phone number and Web address, then verify each separately.
3. Resist the urge to act now. Ask them to send something in the mail that you can review later.
4. If you decide to donate, pay by check directly to the organization, not a solicitor. Better for income tax purposes and security.
5. Report fraud, deceptive or questionable organizations by calling your State's Attorney Generals office or the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357. Don't let them prey on others.
Anytime money is involved, there will always be unscrupulous individuals trying to take advantage of your kindness. This is even more of a problem when it comes to charitable giving because there are so many good causes out there, that it is hard to monitor the good ones, much less the scam artists. So if possible, know the charities that you want to contribute to and avoid those that approach you until you have had time to get to know them better.
Keith Maderer is a financial expert and has been a investment and tax adviser in the Western New York area for over 30 years. He is the owner of SENIOR Financial and Tax Associates and the founder of the Maderer Foundation, a private scholarship program. Keith is also the author of How To Get Your College Education For Less," available on Amazon.com - ISBN No: 978-1-4538-2053-7. Discover additional ways to help others along with financial and income tax strategies. Check out his blog or download your FREE Wealth Expansion Kit by visiting http://www.sftaweb.com. The first step to creating wealth is knowing where you are and then charting a path that will enhance your financial strengths and correct your weaknesses.© 2012 Keith Maderer
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