If you get a call from someone asking you to give to a charity, you might be tempted to agree to it without thinking about it. However, as with any call you get from someone asking for money out of the blue, pause and do a little digging to avoid fraudsters who try to take advantage of your generosity.
Unfortunately, there are for-profit companies that pretend to be charitable organizations and lie about how they use donations. The latest example is American Handicapped and Disadvantaged Workers, Inc (AHDW), which was sued by the FTC for deceiving people and shut down.
How did it happen?
AHDW’s telemarketers called and asked people to donate – either by giving money or buying overpriced household products from them. These telemarketers often falsely claimed that they are disabled themselves and implied that most of the money raised would be used to pay the disabled employees at the company. As a bonus, people were told they’d get a free gift in the mail for donating.
It all seemed well and good but, in reality most of the telemarketers weren’t disabled, and only a small portion of the company’s earnings were paid to AHDW’s few disabled employees. What about the free gifts people should’ve received? They got them, coupled with an invoice, followed by harassing calls demanding payment for products people never ordered.
If you get a call from about buying something to support a charity, here’s what you can do:
- Do some research:Check with the IRS, BBB or your state Attorney General if the organization is indeed a charity. That “charity” might be a for-profit company trying to trick you into overpaying for things you routinely buy.
- Don’t pay a cent for unordered merchandise:You can keep any gifts you get in the mail from a charitable organization that asks for contributions. If you never ordered it, you don’t have to pay for it – even if someone tries to bully you into paying for it.
Please note that it is legal for charities to call and ask for donations, even if your number is on the Do Not Call Registry. However, it is illegal for telemarketers to imply they are from a charitable organization when they’re not.