In times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, people come together to support one another. It’s during these times when we are trying to help those most in need that we need to be alert and pay close attention to what we support. While some charities are supporting those affected by COVID-19, others are set up to take advantage of the situation and make a profit. MCAO is committed to helping residents of Maricopa County make smart decisions and protect their personal and financial information. If you are considering donating to a charity, use these helpful tips to guide your decision making:
Research the organization beforehand on the IRS Select Check or the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and be on the lookout for any complaints or bad reviews.
Verify the organization’s authenticity! A legitimate organization should be able to tell you if they are a non-profit, their mission, and their federal tax ID number (EIN).
Ask what percentage of your donation will go to support those in need and how the donation will be used.
Keep a record of your donation by asking for a receipt.
Don’t assume that crowdfunding or GoFundMe accounts on social media are legitimate.
Avoid organizations or charity campaigns that do the following:
Pressure you and use alarming language to try and get you to donate.
Ask you to donate with cash, through gift cards, or via wire transfer, especially to overseas organizations.
Request personal and financial information, such as your social security number or bank account information.
Send emails to you stating you’ve donated before, contact the organization directly if you’d like to donate.
Send thank-you letters or text messages mimicking legitimate charities. Delete any emails from unknown charities, especially those with email attachments or links.
We can all do our part to help each other during this crisis while avoiding scams and keeping our personal and financial information safe. If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam or received a fraudulent solicitation, file a consumer complaint with the AZ Attorney General and the FTC.
To learn more about scams, fraud and identity theft, visit MaricopaCountyAttorney.org/ScamsAndFraud