The Postal Inspectors are warning us that we are likely to see a lot of these scams appear as a result of the Southern California fires.
If you are one of the good people out there, who intends to lend some financial support, it is a wise thing to make sure your hard-earned money is going where it is supposed to.
From the USPIS release:
Our charitable nature leaves us vulnerable to charity fraud schemes. Most charities are legitimate organizations that support good causes. Some, however, are run by swindlers. With more than 700,000 federally recognized charities soliciting for charitable contributions, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service reminds everyone it pays to be cautious when making a donation.
Disasters bring out the best in people who truly desire to help those impacted by these situations. Unfortunately, disasters also bring out the worst; scammers take advantage of the circumstances by stealing the charitable donations intended to help victims of the disaster. Postal Inspectors saw numerous charity scams emerge in the days following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 Southeast Asia earthquake and tsunami, and the September 11th terrorist attacks.
The recent California firestorm offers a new opportunity for fraudsters to perpetrate charity scams. If you're considering a contribution to help with relief efforts, it's important to know where your donation dollars will go. California Charities can be researched on the Attorney Generalwebsite, http://ag.ca.gov/charities or at the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, http://www.give.org/.
The Postal Inspectors are also offering some general tips on how to avoid these scams:
-- Give donations to known charities, or research new or unfamiliar charities first.
-- Refuse high-pressure appeals. Legitimate fundraisers won't push you to give on the spot. -- Be suspicious of solicitors who say they can only accept a cash donation.
-- Always make checks out to the name of the charity, never to an individual.
-- Be wary of "sound-alike" charities, many scammers use names that sound similar to names of legitimate charities.
-- Be skeptical if someone thanks you for a pledge you don't remember making. This is a tactic scammers use to lull victims into sending "additional" funds.
-- Ask for ID. For-profit fundraisers must disclose the name of the charity requesting the donation --- it's the law. Many states require paid fundraisers to identify themselves as such and to name the charity for which they're soliciting. If the solicitor refuses to tell you, hang up and report it to law enforcement officials. Also ask how much of your donation goes to those in need and how much goes to the fund raiser.
Last, but not least -- if you spot one of these scammers, you can help terminate their activities by reporting them to the Postal Inspectors.
You can find your local Postal Inspector by calling 877-876-2455. If you are of a more technical nature and prefer to report illegal activity online, you may do so, by clicking here.
USPIS release, here.
Although, Arnold isn't taking calls from bloggers this morning, I'm sure he supports terminating this type of activity, also.
The people in Southern California will need a lot of money to help them recover. Wasting monetary resources on scams will not help the situation.
PS: I'm dedicating this post to Paul Young, a noted Southern California blogger and friend, who writes Prying1.
I've enjoyed reading his investigative insights on issues, which are obtained, by digging a little deeper than the mainstream media.