Recent tragedies, such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the Texas power plant explosion, bring out the best in Americans. People want to help, unfortunately, these sort of devastating incidents tend to bring out malicious opportunists as well.
In an age where technology disburses information so rapidly, requests for monetary donations and urgent appeals have already flooded the masses. Outlets such as FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, Kick-starter, mailboxes and even “door knockers” are being used. They may be using telemarketing techniques or even just standing on street corners. Many of these fundraisers may genuinely want to help and have the best of intentions.
The Federal Trade Commission, however, wants to warn consumers to make certain that donations are going to help those who need it, and not fund the scammers pulling on the heartstrings – and pocketbooks-of the generous.
The FTC’s offer a “Charity Checklist” with tips for consumers to help them donate wisely to the right place:
If you are asked to contribute to a charity, the FTC recommends that you:
- Ask for the name of the charity if the telemarketer does not provide it promptly
- Ask what percentage of your donation will support the cause described in the solicitation
- Verify that the charity has authorized the solicitation
- Do not provide any credit card or bank information until you have reviewed all information from the charity and made the decision to donate
- Ask for a receipt showing the amount of the contribution and stating that it is tax deductible
- Avoid cash gifts. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by check – made payable to the beneficiary, not the solicitor.
Victims of these tragedies need your help, and you should not have to feel nervous about providing aide. Fear of being scammed keeps good intentions from becoming great acts of kindness. Follow the guidance of the FTC, and pay attention to who is running these campaigns so that you can still offer your support when it is needed most.