Attorney General Chris Carr joined with state charities regulators and the Federal Trade Commission to observe International Charity Fraud Awareness Week this week, Oct. 18-22.
This is a coordinated campaign to help charities and consumers avoid charity fraud and promote wise giving.
“Far too often scam artists exploit the generosity of Georgia citizens by posing as legitimate charities in an effort to commit financial theft,” Carr warns. “It is important to understand the warning signs of a fraudulent charity and best practices for mitigating any potential harm if you were to encounter this type of scam. Our office is dedicated to protecting the public and helping Georgians to safeguard their hard-earned money by providing them with the educational resources needed to identify and discern potential scams.”
It is fairly easy for a scammer to set up a realistic-looking website, copy a logo, or create a name that sounds very close to that of a well-known charity. While some charities are completely bogus, even properly established charitable organizations spend varying amounts of donations on the actual programs they support. Consumers should also be careful when responding to ads or posts they see on social media or crowdfunding sites, as these are not always legitimate – even if they have been shared or liked by your friends. It is very important to take your time to review an organization thoroughly before you give someone your money.
“Especially as we enter the holiday season, it is important for Georgians to be aware of scam charities that will lie and deceive,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “As the state’s charities regulator, I work hard to protect well-meaning Georgians from scammers looking to take their money. But vigilance from everyone is the best defense.”
Before you donate:
- Consider donating only to charities you know and trust.
- The following websites can help you determine whether an organization is reputable and how likely it is to use your money effectively and efficiently:
- Find out whether the charity plans to share your contact information with other charitable organizations or marketing companies. This commonly occurs, which is why people often receive solicitations from other charities after making a donation. You can review a charitable organization’s donor privacy policies by visiting Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance.
- Never give out your credit card or bank account information in response to an unsolicited phone call, email or text. Instead, ask the person to mail you information.
Red flags that may indicate a scam:
- High-pressure sales tactics or excessively emotional appeals.
- Unsolicited emails – especially from someone claiming to be a victim – asking for your credit card or bank account information.
- Insistence that you pay via cash, wire transfer or gift cards.
- Charities that pop-up quickly following a tragedy or natural disaster.
- Organizations that refuse to provide detailed information about their identity, mission, costs, how the donation will be used or proof that contributions are tax-deductible.
- Organizations that use a name that closely resembles that of a better-known, reputable organization.
You can report suspicious charitable solicitations to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Charities Division by calling 470-312-2640 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to the Georgia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by visiting consumer.ga.gov or calling 404-651-8600.