How Not To Be Taken By Charity Scams

One of the reasons it’s important to have a reliable, skilled estate planning attorney is to protect your assets from scam charities so you can be sure that your generosity is guided into the proper channels. 

If you live in Southeastern Massachusetts or Cape Cod, the well-respected lawyers of Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. are here to help you make charitable planning arrangements that are most beneficial to the causes you care most deeply about. Our attorneys will also see to it that your charitable giving makes the most of your resources while protecting you from excessive taxation by establishing a Charitable Lead Trust, a Charitable Remainder Trust, a Charitable Gift Annuity, or a Donor-Advised Fund.

But what about the small donations you make in response to TV ads, phone calls, mail, and email solicitations, or collections at your door or at the supermarket? How can you tell if these are scams? It’s distressing to think that your desire to help those less fortunate may have been manipulated and that your kind thoughts have actually fed a criminal enterprise. 

Here are a few tips for escaping scam artists who, it is helpful to know, are likely to go after those of us who appear approachable, unhurried, and perhaps interested in helping any worthy cause.

Red Flags that You Are Likely Dealing with a Scam

The following may well be signs that your good nature is being taken advantage of:

  1. A friendly phone call, letter, or email that thanks you for an earlier contribution that you don’t remember. This is often simply a ploy to make you believe you have already determined that the cause is legitimate. Don’t fall for it.
  2. An organization you’ve never heard of but the logo of which appears to be familiar. Phony logos or letterheads frequently mimic those of well-known charities. Names can also be only slightly different from those of legitimate organizations, using phrases like “heart fund” “veteran” or “hurricane relief.”
  3. Being pressured to respond immediately is meant to keep you from researching or even questioning the request. The solicitor may say, for example, that there is a limited window of opportunity for your gift to be matched and that they must reach a certain amount by midnight.
  4. Requests for cash payment, wire transfers, or gift cards are often warning signals since these methods of payment are not easy to trace.
  5. Email requests that may link to a phony website.
  6. Requests that supposedly (or actually) come from a friend who may not be aware that they themselves have been defrauded or whose email or social media account may have been hacked.
  7. Requests for personal information like bank account numbers or 

Social Security numbers that a legitimate charity would never ask for.

  1. Requests from charities that have obscure locations or purport to be 

located in other countries.

  1. Requests from teenagers who may themselves be victims of the scam and who 

seem uninformed about the organization they supposedly work for.

Although it is unfortunate that giving in to our most charitable instincts can lead us astray, it is wise to pay attention to the enormous number of fake charities that are looking to capitalize on our good natures. In the end, it is best to decide on your own, with a clear head and some careful research, which charities deserve even small amounts of your money.

Contact Our Accomplished Charitable Planning Attorneys Today

We are well-positioned to assist you in making smart decisions about your charitable donations and how best to handle them. We will help you create a charitable foundation as part of your legacy. It is always the right time to plan to give. Contact us now so we can help you make sure that your generous instincts are being put to good use.