INTRO-As we approach the holiday's people start thinking of making charitable donations. Their intentions are good but you need to be careful. Every year there are crooks who use scams to cheat people out of there good intentions and stealing millions of dollars each year. Q- Give me an example of the charitable scams that people fall for.
A- The problem is that these scams are hard to catch. For example the Federal Trade Commission filed a law suit against some charities called the Cancer Fund of America, the Children's Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society this last May. These charities which have existed for years raised over $200 million over the years. According to the FTC only about 3% were spent on cancer patients. The trouble is when you get a phone call from something that sounds legitimate like the Children's Cancer Fund of America, it sounds so legitimate people just write the check.
Q- So what should people do if they want to contribute to charity?
A- Unfortunately they need to do some homework. Here are three steps that should be taken
#1 - Research the Charity. If you are not familiar with the charity you can go to the Ohio Attorney General web site and see if the Charity has been registered in Ohio. Also the Ohio Attorney General web site has links to the organizations like the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance ; Charity Navigator; Charity Watch and Guide Star. You can get a lot of valuable information about the charities including how much is spent on the charitable activity versus payroll and other expenses.
Go to www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov and look for the information on charities.
It is a little difficult to find the exact page when you go to the attorney generals web site, so what I did was google the phrase "Ohio attorney general charity"
#2 Ask for written information- A legitimate charity will send you information about the charity in the mail.
#3 Ask who is calling. Ask whether the caller is a fundraiser or a volunteer and ask what percentage of the money raised by the caller goes to the charity. You may decide that you want to give to the charity but not through the phone solicitation.
Q- Any other steps that you recommend?
A- Yes. Anytime there is a natural disaster the scammers come out in force and set up phony organizations. So be especially vigilant when you respond to calls for donations for disasters.
CLOSE- The old phrase no good deed goes unpunished sometimes is true. Don't give away your money for a good reason to the wrong person. Make sure you take the time to make sure your hard earned money goes to a real charity and not some scammer's pocket book.