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Consumer Alert: Be Aware of Charity Scams

Friday, October 13, 2023

The horrific stories we are all reading about Saturday’s attack in Israel are hard to process, but our hearts go out to the innocents. During a crisis like this, you may want to donate to relief efforts. Unfortunately, scammers will stop at nothing to take advantage of people, even those who want to help, so please be aware of charity scams and make sure your money is going where you intend it to go. Below are some tips to keep in mind before you donate.

  • Make sure the organization you want to donate to is legitimate. If you are unsure, you can call our office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or check its license with the Secretary of State. You can also research a charity’s ratings and history through the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
  • Don’t respond to unsolicited calls, emails, and text messages asking you to give. Even if these messages look or sound legitimate, they could be phishing scams or even direct you to copycat links of a legitimate charity’s website to try and trick you.
  • Watch out for social media and crowdfunding scams. Crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe can help people support causes and are shared rapidly on social media platforms. However, scammers can sometimes use it to trick you into donating to something that does not exist. Before you give, take time to research the organizer. If you can’t find them online or if their details don’t match up with the post, don’t contribute. Only give to a crowdfunding campaign if you can verify the identity of the organizer.
  • Pay by credit card or check. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by credit card.  If you pay by check, make it out to the charity itself, not the fundraiser. Generally, legitimate charities will never ask you to donate by purchasing or redeeming gift cards for themselves or any individual affiliated with them.
  • If you’re feeling pressured to give immediately, don’t. Legitimate charities will never pressure you into giving.

If you decide to donate, make sure your money goes to your cause of choice. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam, file a complaint with our office’s Consumer Protection Division at www.ncdoj.gov/complaint or by phone at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.

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