FTC Warns Consumers of Charity Scams

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is urging consumers to be cautious when making donations to help the victims of the disaster, and for victims of the disaster to beware of home repair and identity theft scams. Scam artists might take advantage of this situation by creating bogus fund raising and home repair operations or engaging in identity fraud.

FTC Safety Checklist

Thinking about donating to a charity?

The Federal Trade Commission advises that you consider the following precautions to ensure that your donation dollars benefit the people and organizations you want to help. They're good practices whether you're contacted by an organization's employees, volunteers or professional fund-raisers, soliciting donations by phone, mail, or in person.

  • Be wary of appeals that tug at your heart strings, especially pleas involving patriotism and current events.
  • Ask for the name of the charity if the telemarketer does not provide it promptly.
  • Ask what percentage of the donation is used to support the causes described in the solicitation, and what percentage is used for administrative costs.
  • Call the charity to find out if it's aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name.
  • If the telemarketer claims that the charity will support local organizations, call the local groups to verify.
  • Discuss the donation with a trusted family member or friend before committing the funds.
  • Don't provide any credit card or bank account information until you have reviewed all
    information from the charity and made the decision to donate.
  • Ask for a receipt showing the amount of the contribution and stating that it is tax
  • Understand that contributions made to a "tax exempt" organization are not necessarily tax deductible.
  • Avoid cash gifts. They can be lost or stolen. For security and tax record purposes, it's best to pay by check -- made payable to the beneficiary, not the solicitor.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.


For information on insurance claims and independent appraisers ListenToSpotlight on Thursday at 1:00 EDT and ask your questions of our guest, Glenn Nahmias, a Public Adjuster with Metro Adjusters in Los Angeles.

If you own a home, there is always the possibility that you could lose it in a natural or man-made disaster. Learn what you need to know about how to deal with your insurance company and what options are open to you.

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For additional info see earlier blog:
  Double Disaster...

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