Montana and Partners Announce First Annual International Charity Fraud Awareness Week

Montana Attorney Tim Fox joins with state charities regulators across the country, the National Association of State Charities Officials (NASCO) and the Federal Trade Commission to announce the first annual International Charity Fraud Awareness Week (ICFAW) October 22 -26, 2018. ICFAW is a coordinated international campaign to help charities and consumers avoid charity fraud and promote wise giving.

“When you donate, you want your money to go to an organization that really helps make a difference. Many reputable charities are deserving of our support,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. “Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who misuse real pictures and stories to get donations, but the money goes into their own pockets. It’s important to do your homework and give wisely. My Office of Consumer Protection stands ready to help Montanans who have questions about ways to ensure your donations will be used as intended.”

The Office of Consumer Protection at the Montana Department of Justice offers these charitable giving tips:

Do your research

• Search the charity’s name online with words like “complaint” and “scam.”
• Check out the charity’s ratings with groups like the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and Guidestar.
• Use the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search to see if your donation is tax-deductible.

Ask questions

• What are the charity’s website, address, and mission?
• How much of your donation will go directly to services, rather than fundraising?
• How much of your donation will be used for the specific programs you want to support?

Be careful how you pay

• If someone asks you to send them cash, wire money, donate by gift card, or leave money under your front door mat for pick up, don’t do it. That’s how scammers often ask you to pay. It’s safer to pay by credit card or check.
• If you’re donating online, check that the webpage where you enter your payment information has “https” in the web address. That means your information is transmitted securely.
• Avoid cash donations, if possible. Pay by credit card, or write a check directly to the charity. Legitimate charities will give you a receipt that shows the amount of your donation. Keep that record and check your credit card statements to make sure you’re only charged for the donation you wanted to make.

Watch out for scammers’ tricks

• Scammers spoof caller ID to make their fundraising calls look like they’re from your local area code, a Washington, D.C. area code, or from an organization you know.
• Scammers pressure you into donating immediately before you have time to do any research. A legitimate charity will welcome your donation at any time.
• Scammers claim that you’ll win a sweepstakes or get a prize if you donate, which is against the law.

Charity Fraud Awareness Week features a social media campaign that promotes wise giving tips. Follow @AGTimFox on Twitter or watch for tips at #CharityFraudOut. More charitable giving pointers are available by visiting the Office of Consumer Protection’s webpage or calling 1-(800)-481-6896 during business hours. Interested individuals may also watch the FTC’s new video, “Make Your Donations Count.”