Don’t let scammers scare you
Tragedies often result in a flurry of activity by scammers. Recent headlines have focused on Ebola, and slick scammers are using scare tactics to capitalize on people’s concerns.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration are warning consumers to stay away from fraudsters peddling health products that are supposed to “cure” or vaccinate against Ebola.
In addition, fake charities are popping up to take advantage of good-intentioned donations toward relief efforts. Here are a few tips for protecting your money against tragedy-related fraud:
Never give your personal or financial information to anyone who calls you on the telephone or who comes to your door.
Be wary of charities that use a “pitch” filled with emotional words and images, or who try to scare you.
Only participate in fundraising efforts undertaken by individuals you know and trust.
Ask the charity to send you printed material via mail so that you have time to review the organization and make an informed decision.
Contribute only to charities that have a proven record of providing effective relief.
Check the charity through a third-party organization, such as the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office (www.checkthecharity.com or 303-894-2200, option 2) or the Better Business Bureau (www.give.org).
The bottom line is that if you are ever feeling pressured or rushed into making a donation to a charity, it’s a good indicator that you need to remove yourself from the situation and give yourself some time to do your homework.
An AARP Foundation ElderWatch specialist is available for older people if they need assistance in checking out a charity or to report a scam or fraud at 1-800-222-4444, option 2. Trained volunteer specialists are available to listen and provide assistance Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.