North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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Beware scam artists posing as disaster relief charities, warns AG Cooper

Release date: 1/4/2005

In wake of tsunami tragedy, consumers warned to be careful to whom they donate money.

Raleigh: As North Carolina citizens give time and money in support of tsunami disaster relief efforts, Attorney General Roy Cooper today asked them to be on the look out for potential scams pretending to be charities.

“It’s important that our contributions count. Scam artists who take advantage of people in these situations are creative and resourceful, and we need to be on watch to be sure they don’t surface in North Carolina,” Cooper said.

Cooper warned that con artists try to steal money in many different ways ranging from telemarketing scams to door-to-door sales pitches. He warned that residents should always contact the charity themselves rather than answering questionable emails or unsolicited phone calls. Cooper’s office has gotten no reports yet of scam artists taking people’s money in state. However there are email “phishing” scams claiming to be from the aid group Oxfam making the rounds on the Internet. And reports of relief scams are springing up around the nation.

Attorney General Cooper asked that all North Carolinians watch for potential scam artists and report them to his Consumer Protection Office by calling (877) 5NO-SCAM or visiting to file a complaint. A few tips to keep in mind while donating to any charity:

• If you suspect a scam, call the real charity to verify the information. Find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name.

• 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.

• Contributors should be sure they know the charity’s name, address and telephone number, and whether or not the donation will be tax deductible. Also they should be aware what percentage of money given will go towards administrative fees.

• Be on the look out for sound-alikes. Some phony charities use names that closely resemble those of legitimate charitable organizations.

• Refuse high-pressure appeals. Legitimate fundraisers won’t push you to give on the spot. Avoid solicitors who want to send a courier to pick up your donation.

Cooper reminded North Carolinians that there are a number of ways to verify a charity is legitimate. The NC Secretary of State’s Office licenses all charities in North Carolina. Their toll-free number is (888) 830-4989 and their website is Citizens can also contact their local Better Business Bureaus ( ) or Guidestar – a national database of non-profits ( ). ###