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Protecting your clients from year-end charity scams

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With GivingTuesday right around the corner, many of your clients are likely to make an "in the moment" decision to give to a charity. That’s terrific, and you’ll be doing them a big favor if you offer a gentle reminder that, unfortunately, there are a few bad actors in every industry – even philanthropy. 

Shocking and cautionary tales abound. For example, consistent with many scammers’ attempts to take advantage of donors’ desire to support first responders, a telemarketing charity managed to grab more than $100 million over a four-year period intended by donors to support law enforcement. This scam involved callers impersonating police officers. 

On the positive side, the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general are doubling down on pursuing the so-called charities’ fundraisers. As your clients' trusted advisor, you also can help to ensure their gifts go to reputable organizations.

Here are three red flags to share with your clients as giving season approaches:

  • Too much pressure is too much pressure. Scammers are known for pushing hard for a rush decision to make a donation. Leading questions are another technique ("Can we count on you for your support?" "What credit card would you like to use tonight?").
  • Thanks but no thanks. Another popular deception is for a scammer to open the conversation with a thank you... for a gift you never made. Don’t second guess yourself; if you don’t think you made a donation, you probably didn’t. Charitable giving is both an emotional and transactional decision, and that means it tends to stick in your memory. 
  • Déjà vu – or not so much? Watch out if the charity sounds familiar but you still can’t place it. Scammers frequently create legitimate-sounding names for their fake charities that mimic well-known organizations. Don’t fall for it.

There are several websites that can help you and your clients research potential charities, including Charity Navigator, CharityWatch and GuideStar. Akron Community Foundation's experienced staff can also help you find the right charity to meet your clients' philanthropic goals right here in Greater Akron. And, of course, your clients can start their own charitable fund at the community foundation to take all the guesswork and paperwork out of their charitable giving.

To learn more, contact Laura Lederer, senior director of development and advisor relations, at 330-436-5611 or llederer@akroncf.org.

Additional Resources

This content is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice.  

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