North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice
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Give to real relief efforts for Japan, not to scammers

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


With the recent earthquake and tsunamis in Japan, many people are eager to contribute money to help the hard-hit country.  Unfortunately, history has shown us that there are unscrupulous people out there who will do anything to make money.  Past catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina, the Pacific Ocean tsunamis, and the earthquakes in Haiti spawned scams that collected money that never reached the victims.  Similar scams are likely following the devastating earthquake and tsunamis in Japan.
 
Attorney General Roy Cooper encourages North Carolinians to give generously to relief efforts for Japan but to watch for charity scams.  To avoid scams and make sure your donations go to legitimate charities:
 
·         Don’t respond to unsolicited emails and text messages asking you to donate.  Even if the message looks legitimate, it could be an example of phishing – when scammers use the names and logos of real organizations to try to steal your money.  The messages may include links to copycat websites of legitimate charities to try to trick donors.  If you want to donate, contact the charity at a website or phone number you know to be valid.
 
·         Watch out for pushy telemarketers.  Telemarketers that refuse to answer your questions, offer to pick up your donation or pressure you for a credit card number are usually up to no good.  Also, some telemarketers keep up to 90 percent of the money they give to charities.  Your money will go further if you give directly to the organization, not to hired fundraisers.
 
·         Don’t give cash.  Avoid giving cash gifts that can be lost or stolen.  For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by check.  Be sure that checks are made out to the charity, not the fundraiser.
 
·         Protect your personal information.  Never give your credit card or bank account number to someone you don’t know who calls you, and don’t share personal financial information by email or text message.  If you donate online, use a secure website.  Look for a lock icon and a web address that starts with “https”.
 
·         Check out charities before you give.  Visit www.give.org to see if national charities meet the standards set by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, and www.charitywatch.org for ratings of charities by the American Institute of Philanthropy.  For detailed financial information about a charity, contact the NC Secretary of State’s office at (888) 830-4989 or www.secretary.state.nc.us/csl, or visit www.guidestar.org.
 
If you spot a scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at ncdoj.gov .