In the wake of the flooding in Colorado, the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, urges people to be wary of charity scams.
If you’re looking for a way to give, do some research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization. Urgent appeals that you get in person, by phone or mail, by e-mail, on websites, or on social networking sites may not be on the up-and-up. Unfortunately, legitimate charities face competition from fraudsters who either solicit for bogus charities or aren’t entirely honest about how a so-called charity will use your contribution.
If you’re asked to make a charitable donation to support victims of the flooding in Colorado, consider these tips:
- Donate to charities you know and trust. Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events.
- Ask if a caller is a paid fundraiser, who they work for, and what percentage of your donation goes to the charity and to the fundraiser. If you don’t get a clear answer – or if you don’t like the answer – consider donating to a different organization.
- Don’t give out personal or financial information – including your credit card or bank account number – a unless you know the charity is reputable.
- Never send cash: you can’t be sure the organization will receive your donation, and you won’t have a record for tax purposes.
- Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance (bbb.org/us/charity), Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org), Charity Watch (charitywatch.org), or GuideStar (guidestar.org).
- Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials (nasconet.org).
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.