Tips on Avoiding Fraudulent Charitable Contribution Schemes
Authored By: Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.
Recent natural disasters of open the door for American to help others. These sudden events and the immediate pictures we see of the loss of life, emotional distress and incredible property loss to victims, evoke our desire to help these victims by sending manpower and contributions of water, food and money to provide some relief to these awful situations.
Generosity, unfortunately gives the opportunity for criminals to scam donors.
Your contribution may not get to the organization you intended or the organization may not even exist!
Before making a donation of any kind, check out these tips:
- Unsolicited or spam e-mails - Don't respond!
- Beware of individuals who claim to be officials asking for money by e-mail.
NEVER click on links in an e-mail you did not ask to receive or that you are not sure that if you know the sender.
If you think it is the real organization, try typing the link in a new browser window or try to locate the organization using a search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing.
Unless you know the person sending the email, NEVER open attachments.
Emails claiming to have pictures in attached files may contain viruses.
- Always make the contribution directly to an organization you know. Never give money to someone else who is going to give the money to a charity.
Check the organization out! Check for a website. Check with the Oklahoma Secretary of State, your local Better Business Bureau or your local Chamber of Commerce.
The Oklahoma Solicitation of Charitable Contributions Act, requires every organization located in Oklahoma or asking for contributions in Oklahoma (with a few exceptions) to register with the Oklahoma Secretary of State.
This is the link to search:
- Ask family and friends who they trust with their charitable contributions.
- Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who asks for a donation. You may open yourself up to identity theft!
More information on charitable contribution schemes and other types of online schemes, can be found at www.LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com.
If you believe you have been a victim of a charity-related scheme, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud by telephone at (866) 720-5721, or by fax at (225) 334-4707 or see this website:
[The National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) was started by the Department of Justice to investigate, prosecute, and deter fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud from any natural or man-made disaster. More than 20 federal agencies, including the FBI, participate in the NCDF, allowing it to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to relief fraud.]
If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft, check the consumer law section of the OKLaw.org (free legal information) website
or click here for "Identity Theft and Financial Fraud" information.
You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.