Following the major shopping days referred to as Black Friday and Cyber Monday now comes Giving Tuesday which was first designated as a special day to focus on helping out people in need through charitable gifts in 2012. This is a time of the year when many people are receptive to solicitations from charities. Unfortunately, not all of those solicitations will be from legitimate charities. Many of those calls, letters and emails will be from scammers posing as charities.
Even if you are on the federal Do-Not-Call List, which I strongly recommend unless you want to talk to telemarketers, the law permits charities to contact you by phone. Unfortunately, whenever you receive a telephone call, you can never be sure who is really calling you. Even if your Caller ID indicates that the call you are getting is coming from a charity whose name you recognize, the call actually may be from a scammer using a technique called Spoofing to make it appear that the call is legitimate when it is not. The truth is that the call you receive may or may not be from a legitimate charity or a telemarketer on behalf of a legitimate charity and you have no way of knowing who is really on the other end of the line.
When you receive such a call from a telemarketer or someone purporting to represent a charity, if you are interested in the particular charity, the best thing you can do is just to ask them to send you written material. Do not provide your credit card number over the phone to anyone who calls you because you cannot be sure that they are legitimate. Also, as I have warned you in the past, many phony charities have names that are similar to real charities so it is always a good idea to investigate a charity before you make a charitable contribution. In addition, when you receive a charitable solicitation telephone call from a telemarketer, the telemarketer is generally being paid a commission for the money he or she collects. Thus, your contribution to the charity is diluted by the amount that goes to the telemarketer although as Jerry Seinfeld would say, “not that there is anything wrong with that.” However, if you really want to make your charitable contribution go farther, you will be better served by first checking out the particular charity at www.charitynavigator.org where you can find out not only if the particular charity is legitimate, but also how much of your contribution goes toward administrative costs and how much actually goes toward the charity’s charitable work. Charitynavigator.org will also show you the best address to send your contribution. Then you can make your contribution directly to the charity without any amount being deducted for fund raising expenses.