More Americans are contributing to charity this year in reaction to global concerns, whether it’s to support women’s rights or gun control, to combat climate change or to assist Ukrainian refugees.
However, there are just as many con artists attempting to profit off the present state of environmental, social, and geopolitical upheaval.
“Anytime anything is in the limelight, there are going to be people taking advantage of it,” said Kevin Scally, chief relationship officer at Charity Navigator, which assesses and ranks NGOs independently.
Charity impersonation frauds may be difficult to detect.
Charity scams are not only on the increase, but they are also becoming more difficult to detect, according to him.
“Outreach strategies are growing more complex,” Scally remarked. “It spread to charities being misrepresented or exploiting the name or image of that organization.”
According to new studies, fraudsters sometimes impersonate well-known organizations and request for tax-exempt status. Because the IRS’ screening procedure offers nothing to identify whether a charity is authentic, donors may find it difficult to sift out fakes with names that seem like actual organizations and have IRS clearance.
In addition, the IRS recently issued a warning to taxpayers regarding bogus nonprofits. According to the release, “some dishonest telemarketers adopt names that seem like huge well-known charity to deceive individuals.”
In one case, a group previously known as the Cancer Society of America pretended to be the American Cancer Society online and on social media and cashed more than 150 contribution checks made out to the well-known charity. Following a settlement order with the Federal Trade Commission, the organization was permanently disbanded.
Another instance was the now-defunct Cancer Fund of America, which was one of four tax-exempt organizations managed by members of the same family or close business partners that the FTC accused of defrauding customers out of more than $187 million.
The National Association of State Charity Officials requested that the FTC outlaw this kind of charity impersonation earlier this year.
“Bad actors who pose as charities rely on the good will and generosity of contributors by impersonating well-known causes such as cancer, veterans, and local firemen,” stated Yael Fuchs, head of the National Association of State Charity Officials. “By using high-pressure techniques to pull at customers’ heartstrings in order to force an immediate gift, these criminal actors plan to give little time for the consumer to study their claims before deciding to contribute.”
“Heavy volume soliciting employing direct mail or telemarketing makes these scams lucrative and may result in millions of dollars in philanthropic assets lost to fraudulent charitable solicitations,” benefactors pay a high price in the end.
5 methods to prevent charity frauds
To ensure that your money is in the correct hands:
1) Never give online by clicking on a link or attachment. “A contribution form may seem to be quite legitimate, but it might be someone attempting to take advantage of people’s generosity,” he added. Instead of using the supplied URL, do your own search.
2) Research the relief effort using a website such as the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, or CharityWatch, and read online reviews. Then, input the charity’s URL to independently validate you’re working with the appropriate group.
3) Rely on organizations having a demonstrated track record and a well-defined objective. If you’re making a personal gift via a site like GoFundMe, stick to individuals or organisations you know and can vouch for.
4) Always pay with a credit card, which provides extra levels of security, rather than a debit card, which draws money directly from your bank account, and never give via gift cards or wire transfers.
5) Monitor your accounts on a frequent basis for any unusual behavior or fraudulent transactions. Even recognized organizations may push you to raise the amount or frequency of your gift without your knowledge, which is another strategy that violates best standards, according to Scally. “That’s definitely something to keep an eye out for.”
Jdickler. (2022, July 7). Fake charities can be almost impossible to spot. Here’s how to make sure your donations get to the right place. CNBC. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://www.cnbc.com/2022/07/07/how-to-avoid-charity-impersonation-scams-in-times-of-crisis.html?&qsearchterm=scam+charities