SCAM ALERT: Feds Warn of Charity Scams

The Competition Bureau is reminding Canadians to watch their backs.

Especially since Sept. 5 is the International Day of Charity.
It’s a time to celebrate and support individuals and organizations which devote time and effort to help those in need.
But how do you ensure that your donations go to your intended charity, rather than into the pockets of devious scammers?
Charity scammers usually use one of two tricks: they pose as agents of valid, well-known charities or create fake charities.
In either scheme, scammers can be very convincing:
  • They can develop fake websites or paperwork that look almost identical to real ones.
  • They may use familiar names or logos to make it look authentic.
  • They can reach you by phone, email, crowdfunding websites or in person, on the street or at your front door.
  • These scams are especially present in times of trouble. Scammers will ask you to support those in need after the latest natural disaster or national tragedy.
Charity scams cost the donors, of course, but they also divert much needed funds away from real charities.
Here’s some advice to recognize a scam and avoid falling for it.

Be proactive: approach charities directly to make a donation. This way, you know exactly where the money goes and you might be less susceptible to fall for an imposter’s tricks.

Ask questions: always request written information, including the name, address, phone number and tax registration number of the charity, and perhaps the breakdown of where funds are allocated. A legitimate charity would have all this handy.

Do your research: confirm that the tax registration number is legitimate by calling the CRA (1-800-267-2384) or visiting their online charity database. Do some research online, look at reviews, news articles or your local Better Business Bureau’s website, to see whether the charity is legitimate.

Take your time: if the representative seems to be pressuring you or trying to make you feel guilty or selfish, don’t give. It’s probably a trap.

Give wisely: if you are certain the charity is legitimate, go ahead but do not give cash. Use a cheque in the name of the charity or use a credit card so you have a tangible record of the donation. Request a receipt. Ensure it has the charity’s details on it.

If you have information about a charity scam or believe you have been targeted by one, report it to Canada Anti-Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501), the Competition Bureau (1-800-348-5358), the RCMP or your local police.

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