Safe charitable giving during the holidays
By: Rob Baquera, Public Information Officer, Roseville Police Department
The holiday season is traditionally a season for giving. Many of us are thinking about those less fortunate than we are. Others are looking to take advantage of tax breaks before the year end. Whatever the reason, to help to make sure you have a positive outcome, be aware, scammers are very active this time of year.
Charity scams appear in various shapes and sizes:
There’s been a lot growth in online scamming over the past year, many bad-actors are purporting to be charities requesting donations. Even if you recognize a respected charity name, don’t
Unsolicited phone calls
Phone scamming continues to increase. It’s estimated over 59 million US residents lost money from a phone scam in 2021. Legitimate charities rarely make random calls for donations. The easy way to avoid scam calls is to just not answer calls if you don’t recognize the caller. Most of these calls are automated (Robocalls) and never leave a voicemail. Never call a phone number back if they don’t leave a legitimate message.
House calls and street collectors
It’s relatively easy for scammers to go door to door pretending to be collecting for a charity. Some even have fake IDs they show you, knowing that you don’t easily have the capability to check if the ID is valid or not. To help deter door to door scammers, post a “No Soliciting” sign on or near your front door. The same advice exists when you’re out around town and someone is collecting on the sidewalk. Even if they have a compelling story or a legitimate sounding charity, if you’re not sure, don’t donate.
Tips to follow:
- Don’t let any charity rush or pressure you into making a donation, of any kind.
- Look for specifics regarding how your donation will be used.
- Confirm that the charity or organization is legitimate and is a non-profit organization listed with the FTC (www.consumer.ftc.gov/).
- Avoid sweepstakes claiming to exchange winnings for a donation; that’s both a scam and illegal.
Some sites to use to search for legitimate and registered charities or non-profit organizations are:
- BBB Wise Giving Alliance http://www.give.org/
- Charity Navigator http://www.charitynavigator.org/
- CharityWatch http://www.charitywatch.org/
- Guidestar http://www.guidestar.org/
Taking time to ask questions, gather information, and verify an organization’s non-profit status can help make sure that your generous giving will truly go to those that need help. It can also help ensure that your personal information is protected and not compromised by scammers looking for easy targets. If you believe you have been the victim or have had your personal information jeopardized, please contact the Roseville Police Department or file a crime report online.