The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission recently warned the public that some charitable endeavors aren’t as they appear. The two agencies cautioned that scammers often pose as representatives of disaster-related charities.
They offered the following tips for residents to consider prior to making charitable contributions.
• Donate to charities you know and trust. Find a charity with a track record of dealing with natural disasters. Verify the charity online with the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance (bbb.org), Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org), Charity Watch (charitywatch.org) or GuideStar (guidestar.org).
• Ask if the caller is a paid fundraiser. Ask who they work for and what percentage of your donation goes to the charity versus the fundraiser. If you don’t get a clear answer – or if you don’t like the answer – consider donating to a different organization.
• Don’t release personal or financial information. This includes credit card and bank account numbers, unless you know the charity is reputable.
• Never send cash. You can’t be sure that the organization will receive your donation, and you won’t have a record for tax purposes.
• Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered with the state. Visit the National Association of State Charity Officials at nasconet.org.
For more information, visit the FTC’s “Charity Scams” section at consumer.ftc.gov.