Beware: Fake fundraisers are feeding on Boston tragedy

April 23, 2013

By Staff

Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Secretary of State Kim Wyman warned people not to fall victim to fake fundraisers using the Boston Marathon tragedy to scam people into making bogus contributions.

“My heart goes out to those killed and injured in the explosions at the Boston Marathon — as well as to their friends and families,” Ferguson said. “It’s unfortunate that in this time of national mourning, there are those who would exploit our compassion for their own personal gain — but we want to remind people to be careful with their money and make sure your donation helps those who really need the help.”

Wyman joined Ferguson in cautioning Washington donors to exercise judgment as they respond to the bombings in Boston.

“People in Washington are so giving and so kind-hearted that their first impulse after a tragedy or natural disaster is to open their checkbooks to charities that purport to offer relief and assistance,” Wyman said. “I applaud that reaction, but people also need to use a certain amount of caution and judgment. We know that many legitimate, well-known charities with a good track record will be soliciting donations, but we also know that some unscrupulous rip-off artists will also try to cash in.”

Ferguson and Wyman provided the following tips to people wishing to help:

  • Only give to charities you personally know and trust — or do some homework before contributing.
  • Be suspicious of immediate donation requests. Scammers know we are all feeling an urgent need to help and they will capitalize on it.
  • Remember it is not necessary to donate immediately. Take your time and donate to a legitimate organization that is offering assistance to victims. Victims will need your help, not just today but also in the days to come.
  • Don’t give in to pressure. Tell the solicitor you want to take time to make your decision.
  • Don’t pay by cash. Pay by check and make it out to the charity (using its full name, not initials) not to the fundraiser.
  • Never give your credit card number to a fundraiser over the phone.
  • If a fundraiser comes to your door, always ask for identification. Alternatively, you can take the fundraiser’s information and mail your check directly to the charity.
  • Don’t be fooled by a name. Some phone charities, including for-profit companies, have sympathetic sounding names, or names that closely resemble those of respected, legitimate charities.

The Secretary of State’s office has a variety of tips, a video, a checklist for use with telephone solicitors and a brochure on giving wisely at http://tinyurl.com/c9wrxwv. There is also a charities lookup for consumers at www.sos.wa.gov/charities/search.aspx.

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