Charity fraud is the act of using deception to get money from people who believe they are making donations to charities. Often a person or a group of people will make material representations that they are a charity or part of a charity and ask prospective donors for contributions to the non-existent charity.
The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers to take the following precautions to make sure your donation benefits the people and organizations you want to help.
- Ask for detailed information about the charity, including name, address, and telephone number.
- Get the exact name of the organization and do some research. Searching the name of the organization online — especially with the word “complaint(s)” or “scam”— is one way to learn about its reputation.
- Call the charity. Find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name. The organization’s development staff should be able to help you.Ask if the caller is a paid fundraiser. If so, ask:
- The name of the charity they represent.
- The percentage of your donation that will go to the charity.
- How much will go to the actual cause to which you’re donating.
- How much will go to the fundraiser.
Alabama law requires all charitable organizations to register at the Alabama Attorney General's Office. Find out if the charity or fundraiser is properly registered by calling the Alabama Attorney General's Office at (800) 392-5658. You can also contact them to file a complaint.