Phony charities are big business for scammers who prey upon generous people who think they are contributing to help those in need.  I have written many times over the years about a wide variety of phony charities and the efforts of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and others to shut them down.  However, many scammers operating phony charities don’t contact you directly, but instead hire fundraisers to do the dirty work.  Recently the FTC along with the Attorneys General of New York, Virginia, Minnesota and New Jersey settled claims it made against multiple companies owned by Mark Gelvan and three of his associates who claimed to be soliciting charitable contribuitons for a wide variety of charities that purported to help homeless veterans, retired and disabled law enforcement officers, breast cancer survivors and others in need.  Instead, the phony charities that Gelvan and his companies solicited contributions for kept 90% of the money collected with as little as 2% of the money actually going toward charitable purposes.  Under the terms of the settlement, Gelvan and his companies are permanently prohibited from charitable fundraising and pay throusands of dollars that will be donated by the FTC and the four states’ Attorneys General to legitimate chariteis.

Charities are not subject to the federal Do Not Call List so even if you are enrolled in the Do Not Call List, legitimate charities are able to contact you. 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 phony charity or a scammer posing as a legitimate charity. 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 give to any charity, you may wish to check out the charity with http://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.  Charitynavigator.org will also let you know how to most effectively contribute to particular charities you may be interested in.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide was recently cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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