December 10, 2001
BEWARE CHARITY FRAUD
"In 1999 Americans donated some $190 billion to charitable organizations. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), it found in 1995 that 10% of the money donated that year was likely misused or given to fraudulent solicitors," said County Legislator Francis X. Becker (R-Lynbrook). "To help avoid becoming a victim of charity fraud, the FTC has provided the following tips for wise giving."
- As for written information. A legitimate charity will give you information outlining its mission, how your donation will be distributed and proof that your contribution is tax deductible.
- As for identification. As fund-raisers to name the charity for which they're soliciting.
- Watch out for similar sounding names. Some phony charities use names that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations.
- Call the charity. Find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name. If not, you may be dealing with a shame solicitor.
- Be skeptical if someone thanks you for a pledge that you don't remember making. Check your records if you have doubts about a pledge you supposedly made.
- Refuse high-pressure appeals. Legitimate charities won't push you to give on the spot.
- Be cautious of charities that offer to send a courier for your donation.
- Consider the costs. When buying merchandise or receiving free goods for giving, remember that these items are paid for our of your contribution. That means less of your donation may go to charity.
- Be wary of guaranteed sweepstakes winnings in exchange for your contribution. You never have to donate to be eligible to win.
- Don't send cash. For security and tax record purposes, pay by check. Write the official name of the charity on your check.