Consumer Alert: How to make sure you don’t fall victim to fake charity scammers

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Monday’s consumer alert takes a look at you and your big heart. Folks in Rochester are known for our generosity, but following disasters, our generosity must be tempered with a bit of caution.

There are some of the scams we see frequently following a disaster:

  • The sound-alike scam – Thieves create a fake charity that sounds like the name of a legitimate charity.
  • The named disaster scam – For example, the thieves may call the scam the “Ida Victim Relief Fund.
  • The thank you scam – Thieves will call and thank you for a past donation they claim you made before asking you for money.

New Yorkers need to be especially wary after the flooding our neighbors downstate suffered when Ida dumped buckets of rain across the New York City area. Unfortunately, during times like these, scammers come out of the woodwork. Those scams will come in many forms — emails, social media posts, crowdfunding platforms and cold calls. And often those cold calls will have a spoofed number. For example, scammers may make the number on your caller ID appear to be a New York number, but that call could actually be coming from anywhere in the world.

Here’s Deanna’s don’t list when giving to a charity:

  • Don’t allow anyone to pressure you into giving before you’ve done your research.
  • Don’t let anyone trick you into giving with cash, gift cards, or wire transfer.
  • Don’t click on links from unsolicited emails, Facebook or Twitter messages.

Here’s Deanna’s Do List for Giving:

  • Research the charity on sites like Charity Navigator, GuideStar and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.
  • Always give with a credit card which offers consumer protections.
  • Ask how much money goes to the actual mission. A good rule of thumb is at least 65% of your donation should go toward the actual cause.