NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — ‘Tis the season for giving but ’tis also the season for scammers that prey upon our philanthropy.
When you get a call pleading for help, tugging at your heartstrings… chances are you are likely to donate. Especially this time around.
Americans are generous people, donating more than $428 billion to charity in 2018, according to Giving USA Foundation.
Jason Moon, a staff attorney at the Federal Trade Commission in Dallas, said while most charities are legit, some take advantage of the American generosity.
The FTC has investigated several charities over the years, including the case involving the charity Disabled Police and Sheriffs Foundation.
“This organization was claiming that it could provide grants and assistance to disabled police officers,” Moon said.
He said the group raised upwards of $9.9 million dollars, but very little went to the police officers
To ensure your donations are reaching the right people, FTC suggests the following websites for research
Beware of scams, Moon said, if an organization pressures you to donate right away or wants you to pay by a gift card — it’s likely a scam.
But sometimes it’s not as simple as that.
“Companies use very official sounding names, they’ll send you a flyer that is heartwarming,” he said.
Some scammers may even trick you into paying them by thanking you for a donation that you never made.
And finally, if you get a robocall from a charity you’ve never heard of, Moon said it’s likely illegal.
“The telemarketing and sales rule makes it illegal to send a robocall out asking for charitable donations — unless the person who is receiving it already has donated to the organization,” he said.
Moon said research the crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe before you donate.
Also, know that your donation to a site like GoFundMe may not be tax deductible.
The FTC has received more than 2,400 charity-related complaints this year — but Moon said it’s only the tip of the iceberg. He encourages people to complain to the FTC, the BBB and the state attorney general’s office if you suspect a scam.