ATLANTA, GEORGIA – Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is warning fellow Georgians about the risk of scam charities purporting to be raising money to fight coronavirus or help its victims. In light of the ongoing developments related to the coronavirus, or COVID-19, Georgians should beware of con artists seeking to capitalize on their fear and uncertainty.
“During times of fear, scam artists seek to take advantage of well-meaning Georgians who are just looking to lend a helping hand,” said Secretary Raffensperger. “We work hard to stop fraudulent charities in Georgia, but awareness is the first line of defense. Before donating to fight coronavirus, or to support any cause for that matter, I encourage Georgians to look into the charities they are planning to support.”
Secretary Raffensperger and the Securities and Charities Division recommend a few tips for those looking to give:
- Use online resources like the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, GuideStar, Charity Navigator, and Charity Watch, which all provide information about non-profit organizations, to research charities and review each organization’s own website.
- Be wary of phone solicitations in particular. Ask the caller to put the request in writing and provide detailed information and material about the charity and the program he or she is raising money for. Also, find out if the person conducting the solicitation is a volunteer or a paid fundraiser for that charity. Never give your debit card, or bank account information to a telephone solicitor.
- Take a few minutes to make sure that your donation is going to help those in need rather than administrative costs and overhead. Ask how much of your donation will go to supporting the cause. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation.
- Be particularly cautious of couriers willing to rush out to your home or business to pick up your contribution. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it. Do not make payments to individuals. Donate by credit card or check directly to the charity. If your contribution exceeds $250, you should receive a letter from the charity confirming its charitable status as well as the donation amount.
- Even if it sounds legitimate, it may not be. Be sure you know exactly who is asking for your contribution because many organizations intentionally adopt names similar to well-known charities.
Georgians should contact and report any suspicious charitable activity or solicitations to Secretary of State Charities Division by calling (470) 312-2640 or submitting a complaint via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Readers may also want to read information available on-line at: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing