Scam of the day – September 19, 2015 – Syrian refugee charity scams

The civil war in Syria has been going on for almost five years and during that time millions of people have been displaced with many fleeing the conflict to other countries.    The needs of these people for basic human necessities are great.  Mankind indeed can be quite kind and giving at times such as this when our fellow man is in need and the generosity of people here in the United States and around the world is a wonderful thing.  However, scammers are always present at times like this, eager to take your charitable impulse and turn it into an opportunity to steal money you intend to help those in need.  While there are many legitimate charities working hard to help these people, many scammers are setting up phony charities or using the names of legitimate charities to steal charitable donations that should be going to help our fellow man.  In addition, there are some “legitimate” charities that spend an inordinate amount of what they collect in donations on their own salaries and administrative costs rather than use the funds to meet the needs of the people the particular charity is supposed to be helping.

TIPS

Be very wary of telemarketers seeking charitable contributions.   Whenever you receive a telephone call that purports to be from a charity, you can never be sure that the caller is legitimate.  In addition, even if the caller is a legitimate solicitor on behalf of a charity, they work on commission and some of what you donate will be going to the telemarketer.  If a telemarketer arouses your interest in a particular charity, ask the telemarketer to send you written information that you can review before making a contribution directly to the charity that you know will go entirely to the charity.

As for email and text message solicitations from charities, be particularly careful because not only can you not be sure if they are legitimate or not, they may be even worse than that.  The email or text message may contain a link or attachment that has malware that can steal the information from your computer or smartphone and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.

Charitynavigator.org is a great resource.  It is a free website at which you can look up any charity to which you may be considering making a donation.  Not only will Charitynavigator.org tell you whether or not the charity is a scam or not, it also will tell you how much of the money given to the charity goes toward its charitable works and how much it pays in salary and administrative costs.

Some of the well established and highly rated charities presently working on the Syrian relief effort are the American Refugee Committee, the Convoy of Hope, GlobalGiving, International Rescue Committee, Lutheran World Relief, Medical Teams International, Mercy Corps and Save the Children.   You can get more information about these charities at Charitynavigator.org as well as find links to these and other good charities themselves where you can make a donation.