Top 3 Ways for Seniors to Avoid Charity Scams

As we approach the holiday season, it is important to know, America has some of the finest non-profits in the world, but occasionally there may be one out there that may disappoint us. 

With this being Charity Fraud Awareness Week, American Senior Alliance would like to say thank you to our non-profits who are putting in long hours while delivering extraordinary service to those in need.  At the same time, we would like to encourage our older Americans to do their homework prior to contributing to charity.

One of my closest friends told me recently that you can't judge a facility or community that cares for older Americans by just looking at the aesthetic appearance.  He said you have to do your research, go inside and meet the caregiver team.  Donating to a charity is very similar to the advice my good friend shared.  You must do your homework and follow these important tips by the Federal trade Commission.

Do your research online -If you simply type the name of a charity in your browser and then type “complaint”, “review” or “scam” beside it, you will be amazed what you can find out.  You can do this easily on your smart phone or computer.  Also, you can access your attorney general's office.  Often times they will keep up with charitable organizations and may keep records of complaints. 

Be smart when you contribute - It is not a good idea to pay with gift cards, cash or to wire funds.  To be safe, only pay with a credit card or check and keep good records of your transactions. Monitor your financial statement to ensure you pay only what you agreed to.  Before you click on a link to contribute, make sure you know who you are donating to. 

Be aware of the cleaver tactics On many occasions scam artists try and get you out of your comfort zone by rushing you into making a donation. Take your time.  Fraudsters have a crafty tactic of  changing caller ID to make their call appear that it is coming from a local phone number.  On certain incoming calls, certain fraudsters may guarantee sweepstakes winnings or claim your donation is tax deductible.

One of the most skilled investors of all time is a gentleman by the name of Warren Buffet.  He was extremely gifted at reading financial reports, but he would go a step further before making a substantial investment.  Prior to investing, Mr. Buffett or a member of his team would go the business and meet employees and look around to determine if he saw any highlights or shortcomings. 

Mr. Buffett often said he enjoyed getting out and “kicking the tires” before making an investment. Kicking the tires is a term used in the investment arena for doing research, financial analysis or making a company site visit.  For this year's Charity Fraud Awareness Week, American Senior Alliance would like to encourage our older Americans to help those non-profits in need, but do like Mr. Buffett and get out and “kick the tires” prior to contributing to charity. 

If you suspect charitable scam or fraud, report it to your state's consumer protection office.  You can also file a complaint with the Federal trade commission.  Typically, the FTC does not resolve matters, but they monitor charity fraud and file suit on behalf of consumers.




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