Charitable Contribution Fraud Schemes

Florida Litigation Fraud Attorney, Russell L. Forkey, Esq.

Tips on Avoiding Fraudulent Charitable Contribution Schemes:

Most people in the United States have a propensity to want to help the less fortunate in times of natural disasters or in other times of need.  Unfortunately, in such times fraudsters usually appear.

It is important to perform due diligence before giving contributions to anyone soliciting donations or individuals offering to provide assistance to those affected by natural disasters.  Solicitations can originate from e-mails, websites, door-to-door collections, flyers, mailings, telephone calls and other similar methods.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid fraudulent charitable contribution schemes:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as members of charitable organizations or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
  • Beware of organizations with copy-cat names similar to buy not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
  • Rather than follow a purported link to a website, verify the legitimate of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group's existence and its nonprofit status.
  • Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses.  Only open attachments from known senders.
  • To insure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • Do not be pressures into making contributions, reputable charities do not use such tactics.
  • Be aware of whom you are dealing with when providing your personal and financial information.  Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
  • Avoid cash donations if possible.  Pay by credit card or write a check directly to the charity.  Do not make checks payable to individuals.
  • Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services.  Most legitimate charities' websites end in org rather than com.

At the end of the day, only you can protect yourself, in this type of situation.