Charities fraud occurs when an individual or group deliberately misrepresents its fundraising intentions or solicits charitable funds for phony causes. Throughout the year, and especially during the holiday season, you probably get appeals over the Internet, in the mail, or by telephone urging you to contribute financially to a good cause.
And when disasters hit — whether natural or manmade — fraudulent websites pop up, supposedly collecting funds for victims. There are plenty of fraud operators out there who are scheming for your money — and the last thing on their mind is charity. Not only do such come-ons bilk you of your money, but they also put money you intended for the needy into the hands of con artists.
But just how do you know which charities are legitimate? The Salvation Army and the American Cancer Society — those are among the obviously worthy organizations. But what if you receive a charitable solicitation from an organization that you've never heard of?
There are federal agencies that can help you determine if an organization is trustworthy if you are in doubt: