Garner says there are five red flags that signal a likely charity scam:
- Name Game: The name of the organization is similar to a well-known charity, but is slightly off – such as the word “United” instead of “American” or “Organization” instead of “Association.”
- High Pressure: The caller needs an immediate answer and asks you to donate without taking the time to do any research into the cause or organization.
- Cash Only: The organization will only accept cash through a wire transfer – legitimate non-profit organizations accept multiple forms of payment.
- Lack of Information: Anyone soliciting donations should be able to answer questions about the organization. If they can’t answer questions, hang up or delete the email.
- Prize Patrol: A legitimate organization won’t guarantee a prize for a donation. If they do, it’s a scam.
- Recognize: Savvy consumers should look for red flags when someone they don’t know asks them to send money through a wire service or money order, because scammers often request these methods knowing that once the money is sent, it cannot be retrieved.
- React: When they identify a scam, consumers should immediately put an end to any transaction or conversation – hang up the phone, delete the email, or end the back-and-forth messaging.
- Report: Report the suspected scam to the local police, and file reports with the Federal Trade Commission, National Consumers League and Internet Crime Complaint Center (if the suspected fraud was online).