The office of Bucks County Consumer Protection would like to advise consumers of charity fraud. When a disaster such as an earthquake or flood happens overseas or in the United States people tend to come together and help with time and money. Unfortunately scammers also set up immediately. They are especially effective when they set up fake websites or send bogus emails that look like they are from official established organizations. Then they usually have a link that will take the unsuspecting donor to the scammer’s site. There they ask for a donation either through credit cards or by asking for direct access to your banking information. Not only is fraud an issue but if a charity is poorly run the donations may not be used for your intended purpose. Your donations should really go to established organizations that are prepared for large scale disasters. The Red Cross is an example of a charitable organization that has immediate impact. They have the infrastructure, expertise and the people with experience.
There are practical steps for donating that everyone should follow. Be skeptical of unsolicited phone calls, emails or links on social networking sites asking for donations. Do not give personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. That information could make you vulnerable to identity theft.
All charities who raise over $25,000 a year must register with the Pennsylvania Department of State, Charitable Bureau Division. They can be reached at 1-800-732-0999. Again, stay away from links from emails. Go directly to the official website or look up a verified phone number of the charity you may be considering using. Always ask what percentage of your donation will actually be used for the service of those in need.
Department of Consumer Protection /
Michael D. Bannon
50 North Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901