TOPEKA – (October 19, 2020) – During International Charity Fraud Awareness Week (October 19-23), Attorney General Derek Schmidt is reminding Kansans to exercise caution when choosing to make a donation to avoid falling prey to scams.
“Kansans are generous in supporting charitable causes,” Schmidt said. “During International Charity Fraud Awareness Week, we are offering advice to help Kansans remain vigilant and not fall victim to fraudsters who use the tragedies of COVID-19 and a spate of natural disasters to exploit Kansans’ generosity.”
Here are some tips to stay safe from charity scams:
- Do your research before you donate. Don’t immediately respond to a telephone, email or mail solicitation. Most charities soliciting in Kansas are required to register with the Secretary of State’s office. You can check to see if the charity is registered and also find out how much of the charity’s funds go to the charitable purpose, rather than to overhead and fundraising expenses, by visiting www.kscharitycheck.org. Please note, many religious organizations are not required to register.
- Watch out for names that sound alike. Scammers often make their organizations’ names sound very similar to other well-known charities.
- Ask questions to find out where your donations go. Ask for written information, including how much of the money raised is actually used for charitable purposes and how much will end up in the hands of the professional fundraiser.
- Be careful with telemarketers requesting contributions. Oftentimes, the telemarketer keeps a substantial portion of the donation.
- Do not be pressured into making a contribution or a pledge. Real charities will always be happy to take your money a couple days or even a couple weeks after they first make contact with you, so take time to do your research. High pressure appeals that claim a need is “urgent” are often a warning sign of a scam.
Schmidt said the safest way for Kansans to avoid charities fraud is to take control of their own charitable giving. Rather than responding to solicitations for money that arrive by telephone, in the mail, by email or otherwise, Kansans who wish to support charitable causes should develop their own proactive giving plan and give directly to the charities of their choice. Not only can this help avoid fraudsters but it also eliminates the costs charged by professional fundraisers, instead ensuring every penny of a contribution goes to the charitable purpose itself rather than fundraising expenses. In addition, giving to well-established local charities can also maximize the benefit of each contribution and help avoid scams.
International Charity Fraud Awareness Week is a coordinated campaign to help charities and consumers avoid charity fraud and promote wise giving. Partners in the United States joined the awareness campaign for the first time in 2018. The Federal Trade Commission, the National Association of State Charities Officials, state charities regulators across America and other groups joined the Charities Commission for England & Wales, which has hosted its own event for many years, to launch the international effort.
For more tips on how to stay safe when making charitable contributions, or to report a suspicious charity, visit the attorney general’s consumer protection website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org.