The Bakersfield, California Police Department recently issued the following warning on its Twitter account:

“We have received reports of community members being asked to donate to the Shop with a Cop program via phone calls. We have confirmed this is not coming from our organization, or the . Please be alert

The Bakersfield Shop with a Cop program is a program of the Bakersfield Police Department in which children are taken on shopping sprees by police officers and civilian volunteers.  After the shopping spree the children are taken out for pizza.  Scammers having been calling unsuspecting people posing as the charity and asking for donations. The problem is that whenever you are contacted on the phone, you can never be sure as to who is really calling you so you may be contacted either by a fake charity or a scammer posing as a legitimate charity. Charities are not subject to the federal Do Not Call List so even if you are signed up for the federal Do Not Call List, legitimate charities are able to contact you. Using a technique called spoofing, the scammers can manipulate your Caller ID to make it appear that the call is coming from a legitimate charity when it is not. Similarly, when you are solicited for a charitable contribution by email or text message you cannot be sure as to whether the person contacting you is legitimate or not.

TIPS

Never provide credit card information over the phone to anyone whom you have not called or in response to an email or text message. Before you donate to any charity, you may wish to check out the charity with www.charitynavigator.org where you can learn whether or not the charity itself is a scam. You can also see how much of the money that the charity collects actually goes toward its charitable purposes and how much it uses for fund raising and administrative costs. On charitynavigator.org you can also see how to contribute to the real charity directly and avoid scammers posing as legitimate charities such as the Shop with a Cop Program.

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