We are lucky, here in southeastern Pennsylvania, to not be too heavily affected by the yearly hurricane season. Amid all of the cooperation, generosity and heroism shown during such events, there is also a disheartening and much different phenomenon: scam artists posing as charities that provide “disaster relief”. The Federal Trade Commission suggests the following to protect you from these opportunistic fraudsters:
Check-out any potential charities before you give. The FTC website gives a number of organizations that provide internet searches on charities. These include the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Watch, and Guidestar.
- Do not donate in cash, by wire or by gift card. To be safe use credit card or check.
- Keep a record of your donations.
- Do not be pressured or rushed to make a decision.
- Check your statements to determine that the amount you agreed to is the amount actually given and to make sure there are no unintended repeat “donations”.
If you are interested in a tax deduction; ensure that you are dealing with a qualified 501(c)(3) or similar qualified organization. The “list” is now in digital form and can be accessed using a search function on the IRS’s website.
By all means give, but make your gift count by not being taken in by a scam artist.
– Rod Fluck