Charity Donation Scams

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So you want to make a charitable donation. How do you tell the difference between a legitimate charitable organization and that everyday thief? How do you know how much of your donated money goes towards the cause?

Right after a disaster, whether it be a fire, tornado, tsunami, or a hurricane, a lot of charities pop up asking for donations as this is a time to play upon your emotions. Most of the websites created during these times are fake and originate outside of the United States. Many fake charities will often name their organization something closely related to a well-known legitimate organization. Everyday thieves have been known to use a legitimate organization's logos for their own personal gain.

How do you know that the charity you have chosen is legitimate?

Before giving out any of your personal information, such as credit card or bank account numbers, be sure to check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau, your local Secretary of State, or with Charity Navigator.

Better Business Bureau website is www.bbb.org . You can search their charity database by selecting the "Charity & Donors section". For those without web access, you may also call them at (866)206-1800.

Colorado Secretary of State website is www.sos.state.co.us . You will find their charities database under their "Licensing Center". For those without web access, you may also call them at (303)894-2200, Ext. 6409.

Charity Navigator website is www.charitynavigator.org. For those without web access, you may also call them at (201)818-1288.

How do you know if your donation is going toward board salaries and wasteful marketing?
How do you know if your donation is even kept within the city in which you donate?

Be aware that not all of your donation may go for the cause that you believe you are contributing your money to. A percentage of the donations are sometimes placed towards administrative costs to cover advertising, salaries and fundraising. Depending on how donations are collected, your well thought out donation may even end up benefiting another city altogether. Ask questions to find out what percentage of your donation goes to support the cause, or to those administrative costs; whether the solicitor is a paid fundraiser or a volunteer; where the organization is located and their mailing address; and whether any funds are going outside of the city in which you donated. A solicitor of a legitimate charitable organization will have these answers readily available and will be willing to provide them to you without hesitation.

If you believe you are a victim of a charity scam, first contact your local law enforcement agency (police or sheriff) to inform them. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov or by calling (877)382-4357.

If you are a victim of an online charity scam, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

If you believe that a Colorado organization is fraudulently collecting charitable money, please first contact your local law enforcement agency (police or sheriff) to inform them and also contact the Colorado Secretary of State at http://www.sos.state.co.us or by dialing (303)894-2200 & press 2.

Scam Date: 
July, 2012