BBB: Ask questions before you donate by phone

Posted at 10:39 AM, May 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-10 12:39:51-04
Better Business Bureau warns of scammers impersonating local first responders to solicit donations. BBB's Dale Dixon says scammers know victims are inclined to want to help within their own communities and may give in to pressure to donate right away.
"In one scheme, bad guys impersonate local police or emergency response organizations, requesting donations via phone. These calls can come to personal or business phone numbers. Often, the scammers seem to know a lot about whoever they are calling, including names which may be available by public record. Sometimes, the fraudsters try to make victims think they’ve donated to the cause in the past," Dixon said.
Dixon says according to the Federal Trade Commission, the organization should be able to provide you with written information describing the programs your donation will support, and their fundraising costs before you donate.
"Just because an organization claims it has local ties or works with local police or firefighters doesn’t mean contributions will be used locally or for public safety," Dixon continued.
BBB warns you to call the organization or your local police or fire department to verify a fund-raiser’s claim to be collecting on behalf of the organization or department. If the claim cannot be verified, report the solicitation to your local law enforcement officials.
The Federal Trade Commission advises:
Ask how your contribution will be used: Ask what percentage of your contribution will go to the fire or police organization, department, or program. Also ask if your contribution will be used locally. Get written information.
Ask if your contribution is tax deductible: Make your check payable to the official name of the group or charity. Avoid cash gifts as cash can be lost or stolen.
Be wary if a fund-raiser suggests you’ll receive special treatment for donating: For example, no legitimate fund-raiser would guarantee that you won’t be stopped for speeding if you have a police organization’s decal in your car window. Don’t feel intimidated about declining to give. A caller who uses intimidation tactics is likely to be a scam artist. Report the call to your local law enforcement officials.
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