March 5, 2015
***National Consumer Protection Week Consumer Alert***
Carson City, NV – Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt cautions all consumers to be wary of fraudulent charity scams. While charity scams may take place throughout the year, they are especially prevalent during tax season. Fraudulent charities target generous individuals by inviting them to donate their tax refunds to a good cause.
“Fraudulent charitable solicitations are particularly egregious scams because they prey on peoples’ generosity and the good will of donors,” said Laxalt. “Charitable contributions are an important public resource, and the public must be able to trust that their donations will be used as represented. Please conduct research about the charity before making a donation.”
Nevadans should generally avoid any charity or fundraiser that asks for donations in cash or via wire transfer. Consumers should also be wary of charities that refuse to provide proof of their tax deductible contributions. A legitimate charity should provide detailed information about its identity and mission, and how donations will be used. When making a donation online, consumers should ensure that the website belongs to a legitimate, established and registered charity, and that the website matches the name of the charity. An extra precaution that could be taken is checking whether other legitimate websites have linked the charity’s website in question.
To best assure that your donation benefits the causes and individuals you would like to assist, the attorney general’s office offers the following suggestions:
- Do not make a donation without conducting preliminary research. Ask for detailed information about the charity, including the name, address and telephone number. Then, conduct some online searches of the charity name in combination with the words “complaint” or “scam” to learn about its reputation. Using online resources offered by the Better Business Bureau can also provide assurance about the trustworthiness of a particular charity.
- If a charity claims to use your donations to help the local community, contact the local agency and confirm whether the agency is familiar with the charity and receives financial support from it.
- Be wary of solicitations from professional fundraisers who make it seem like they represent a charity. Call the charity directly to verify whether the fundraisers are authorized to act on its behalf. Never make checks payable to a fundraiser, and refrain from providing your credit card number to a fundraiser. It is safest to mail your check directly to the charity.
Additional information about charity scams and how to avoid them can be found on the FTC website here. The FTC also provides complaint assistance for any consumers that suspect they have been the victim of a charity scam. Nevada consumers can also file complaints regarding fraudulent charities with the Nevada Attorney General’s office here.