Charitable Giving Not Immune to Scammers

Following the devastating and deadly earthquake in Nepal, many people and organizations have stepped up to help victims by donating both time and money. This response is tremendous, however it’s important to remember that even charitable giving is not immune to scammers. Criminals often prey on emotions in attempt to scam people out of their money. This is frequently seen during large natural disasters that capture national or global attention, like the situation in Nepal, prompting many people to donate. You may see email solicitations and pop up ads, or receive a phone call from a solicitor, asking for donations to Nepal. Be very wary of this type of unprompted contact, which may not only be fraudulent but a phishing scam or virus. If you are planning on donating to a charity in support of Nepal, make sure to do your research so that you know your contribution will be well spent. Although most charitable organizations use donations wisely, some scammers are out to take advantage of consumers’ hearts and wallets. Protect yourself by finding out if the charity is legitimate and contacting the organization first. Several independent organizations collect financial information on charities, especially those that conduct nationwide solicitation campaigns. Before donating, consider contacting one of the organizations listed on the Attorney General’s website. You can also follow the below guidelines for safe charitable giving:

  • Ask the caller for written information on the charitable organization, including the charity’s name, address, telephone number, mission and details on how your donation will be used;
  • Watch out for charities with similar sounding names. Some unscrupulous charities use names that are very similar to those of respected organizations to scam consumers;
  • Do not click on pop-up solicitations or reply to emails asking for donations. These are likely phishing scams;
  • Be suspicious if a caller or invoice thanks you for making a pledge that you didn’t make. If you have any doubt about whether you made a pledge, check your records;
  • Under Indiana law, you have the right to cancel a pledge prior to making a contribution; and
  • Always make contributions by credit card or check and payable to the charitable organization, not to the solicitor. Never wire money or use a pre-paid debit card to make a donation.

For more information, visit www.IndianaConsumer.com and click on “Charities and Donors.”

Please don’t include confidential information in your emails to us such as Account Number, Card Numbers, Social Security Numbers, User Names, or Passwords. Doing so may put you at risk for Identity Theft and Fraud. For more information about protecting your identity please visit our web site www.firsttrustcu.comand then click on the “Security Information and Member Alerts” link.