Giving to others or donating to those less fortunate than yourself is selfless. Unfortunately, some businesses use people’s good hearts to their advantage and exploit them instead. According to the FBI, charity fraud occurs when a criminal uses a charity or disaster to raise money but fills his or her pockets instead.
Often, scammers appear after natural disasters and emergencies. To fight against scammers, learn how to protect yourself.
How can you avoid scammers?
Charity fraud scammers may use social media, emails, crowdfunding and cold calls to find victims. Often, scammers appear after an emergency or natural disaster to victimize those who want to give to the less fortunate or those who lost homes and businesses. For example, some scammers may commit insurance fraud or pretend to be government affiliates.
To avoid scammers, do not give money to unknown groups. Look for established charities and groups. Be careful online to double-check organization names. Some scammers use copycat names.
No charity should ask for gift cards, cash, virtual currency or wire transfers. Instead, a trustworthy organization accepts credit cards and check.
What can you do as a victim of fraud?
If you fall victim to a company pretending to be a charity, several recourses exist. Protect yourself by taking action when a company violates your rights. You can contact the state consumer protection office, the FBI, and the FTC to report fraud. If someone commits disaster-related fraud, you can report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud.
Even if you fall victim to a scammer, you do not have to accept the crimes against you.