FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 22, 2018
For More Information, contact:
Mike Lewis (334) 353-2199
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491
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Alabama Attorney General
Attorney General Steve Marshall Joins in First
International Charity Fraud Awareness Week, October 22-26
(MONTGOMERY) – Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall joins with state charities
regulators nationwide, the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of
State Charities Officials to announce the first annual International Charity Fraud
Awareness Week from October 22 to 26, 2018. This is a coordinated international
campaign to help charities and consumers avoid charity fraud and promote wise
giving. Consumers may follow events and information at #CharityFraudOut.
Attorney General Marshall and other U.S. partners are joining the Charities
Commission for England & Wales, which for many years has hosted its own Charity
Fraud Awareness Week, and this year the event is expanding to other countries. In
addition to the U.S. participants, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits
Commission, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, the New Zealand Charities
Service, and the Office of the Scottish Regulator are also joining in the international
outreach effort. Key non-governmental participants include Chartered Accountants
Worldwide, the UK’s Fraud Advisory Panel, and international charities Oxfam, British
Council and Amnesty international.
“The people of Alabama are compassionate and generous toward those in need, and at
this time our hearts go out particularly to those who suffered devastating effects from
Hurricane Michael which recently struck the Gulf Coast and nearby areas,” said
Attorney General Marshall. “But we must not let scam artists exploit this good nature
and concern, keeping money from reaching those who are truly in need. We hope that
consumers and businesses who are asked to give will use the resources we are
providing this week to give carefully, wisely and safely so that their donations may
reach legitimate charities who will use these funds responsibly.”
Resources for Consumers
Attorney General Marshall reminds consumers that when they donate it is important to
take steps to make sure their money goes to a charity that really helps make a
difference. Many reputable charities are deserving of support. Consumers may find tips
to assist in finding reputable organizations and for wise giving at www.ftc.gov/charity.
Attorney General Marshall recommends that consumers take the following precautions:
501 Washington Avenue * Montgomery, AL 36104 * (334) 242-7300
www.ago.state.al.us Page 2 of 3
Do your research
- Search the charity’s name online with words like “complaint” and “scam.”
- Check out the charity’s ratings with groups like the BBB Wise Giving Alliance,
Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and Guidestar.
- Use the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search to see if your donation is tax-
- What are the charity’s website, address, and mission*
- How much of your donation will go directly to services, rather than fundraising*
- How much of your donation will be used for the specific programs you want to
- If supporting services in your own community is important to you, ask how the
charity spends money in your area.
Be careful how you pay
- If someone asks you to send them cash, wire money, donate by gift card, or leave
money under your front door mat for pick-up, don’t do it! That’s how scammers
often ask you to pay. It’s safer to pay by credit card or check.
- If you’re donating online, check that the webpage where you enter your payment
information has “https” in the web address. That means your information is
- Avoid cash donations, if possible. Pay by credit card or write a check directly to the
charity. Legitimate charities will give you a receipt that shows the amount of your
donation. Keep that record and check your credit card statements to make sure
you’re only charged for the donation you wanted to make.
- Both the need for donations and the opportunity for giving will still be in effect for
some time. Do not feel pressured into making a contribution; reputable charities do
not use coercive tactics.
Watch out for scammers’ tricks
- Scammers spoof caller ID to make their fundraising calls look like they’re from your
local area code, a Washington, D.C. area code, or from an organization you know.
- Scammers pressure you into donating immediately before you have time to do any
research. A legitimate charity will welcome your donation at any time.
- Scammers claim that you’ll win a sweepstakes or get a prize if you donate, which is
against the law.
- Scammers will thank you for a donation you don’t remember making. Scammers do
that to trick you into thinking you actually made a pledge and to guilt you into
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What about donation requests through social media and crowdfunding sites*
Attorney General Marshall advises consumers to be mindful that, while many requests
for donations through social media and crowdfunding sites are legitimate, some are
scams. For example, there are people who misuse real pictures and stories to get you to
donate, but the money goes into their own pockets. Crowdfunding sites often have little
control over who uses them and how donations are spent. Research before you give.
Also, if tax deductions are important to you, remember that donations to individuals
are not tax-deductible.
The safest way to give on social media or through crowdfunding is to donate to people
you actually know who contact you about a specific project. Don’t assume that
solicitations on social media or crowdfunding sites are legitimate – even when they are
shared or liked by your friends. Do your own research. Call or contact your friends
offline and ask them about the post they shared.
Advice for Businesses
Attorney General Marshall said it is important also for businesses to be careful when
they are approached for charitable contributions. It is important that these donations go
to reputable non-profits, and that businesses avoid inadvertently associating their
companies with a questionable fundraising campaign. The FTC provides these tips at
Tips for Retailers: How to Review Charity Requests. Attorney General Marshall notes
that when companies lend their names to charities through a sponsorship or by
allowing fundraising on their property, their reputations are on the line. Customers and
members of the community may interpret that as a “stamp of approval” and feel safe to
donate to the cause being championed by a business. He advises that before lending a
business’s name to a charity or allowing solicitations on the premises, the business
should find out more about the charity making this request.
Consumers and businesses with questions or concerns may contact Attorney General
Marshall’s Consumer Interest Division by calling toll-free 1-800-392-5658, by writing to
501 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama 36130, or though the Attorney
General’s web page at https://ago.alabama.gov/ConsumerComplaint