EDITORIAL: Be generous but beware | Editorials
Scammers take advantage of generosity.
We have so many nonprofits in our community that truly help others and they depend on your generous support.
Our community has proven its generosity time and time again and unfortunately this makes us vulnerable to unscrupulous scammers.
We join Heads of State in urging caution when making donations, hoping to ensure that your generosity truly benefits those in need, and doesn’t just line the pockets of crooks.
“All too often, crooks exploit the generosity of Georgian citizens by posing as legitimate charities with the aim of committing financial theft,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said. âIt is important to understand the warning signs of a fraudulent charity and the best practices to mitigate any potential harm should you ever come across this type of scam. Our office is dedicated to protecting the public and helping Georgians protect their hard-earned money by providing them with the educational resources needed to identify and discern potential scams.
State officials have said it is quite easy for a scammer to create a realistic-looking website, copy a logo, or come up with a name that closely resembles that of a well-known charity. While some charities are completely bogus, even well-established charities spend varying amounts on donations for the programs they support. Consumers should also be careful when responding to advertisements or posts they see on social media or crowdfunding sites, as these are not always legitimate, even if they have been shared or liked by your friends. It is very important to take the time to thoroughly examine an organization before giving your money to someone.
“Especially as the holiday season dawns, it is important that Georgians are aware of charity scams that will lie and deceive,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. âAs the regulator of state charities, I work hard to protect well-meaning Georgians from scammers looking to take their money. But everyone’s vigilance is the best defense.
So here are some tips from the Attorney General’s office:
– Consider donating only to charities you know and trust.
These websites can help you determine if an organization is reputable and how likely it is to use your money effectively and efficiently: give.org; charitÃ©navigator.org; Charitywatch.org and guidestar.org
– Find out if the charity plans to share your contact details with other charities or marketing companies. This happens commonly, which is why people often receive solicitations from other charities after making a donation. You can review a charity’s donor privacy policies by visiting Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance.
– Never give out your credit card or bank account information in response to an unsolicited phone call, email or text message. Instead, ask the person to send you information.
The GA’s office also said that while scammers are adept at avoiding detection, there are red flags that can point to a scam, including:
– Pressurized sales tactics or overly emotional calls.
– Unsolicited emails – especially from someone claiming to be a victim – asking for your credit card or bank account information.
– Insist that you pay in cash, by wire transfer or by gift cards.
– Charities that spring up quickly following a tragedy or natural disaster.
– Organizations that refuse to provide detailed information about their identity, mission, costs, how the donation will be used or proof that the contributions are tax deductible.
– Organizations that use a name that closely resembles that of a better known and reputable organization.
Anyone can report suspicious charities to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Charities Division by calling (470) 312-2640 or emailing [email protected], or the Consumer Protection Division of the Georgia Attorney General by visiting consumer.ga .gov or calling 404-651-8600.
We do not in any way want to curb the generosity of our community. We strongly encourage you to give generously to local charities you know and trust.