Since the year 2020, the Scamtracker of the Better Business Bureau has received 331 reports of local charity scams in the Shelby County area, resulting in a loss of $52,731.53.
So, what are these scams related to? Wallet Warning: Avoiding Consumer Cons is one of the public education components of the Consumer Financial Protection Initiative, which was developed by Shelby County Trustee Regina Morrison Newman and her Idea Team over the course of the previous year. Trustee Newman has made the announcement that the program will be launched.
As the month of November is designated as National Fraud Awareness Month, now is the ideal opportunity to warn locals about financial frauds that they should be wary of as we move closer to the holiday season. Trustee Newman is beginning a tour of the media today in an effort to raise awareness about this matter.
“Consumer fraud is a significant problem that affects the entirety of our community. According to Newman, “The ‘Wallet Warning’ campaign is a continuation of the emphasis on improving the financial stability of Shelby County residents that the Trustee’s office has been placing.” This emphasis includes the Trustee’s office’s sponsorship of the Greater Memphis Financial Empowerment Center and the Bank on Memphis Coalition. The program is directed at people of all ages, with an initial primary concentration on the most susceptible group, namely older citizens.
Senior citizens typically join up for Medicare during this time of year, and they may become perplexed by the advertisements and agents who call them to ask them to register. Trustee Newman and her colleagues are collaborating with the MidSouth Council on Aging and the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to educate older citizens about a matter that, at times, can be difficult to understand.
As we move closer to the holiday season, the “Wallet Warning” campaign will also provide information and advice on how to safeguard your finances. During this time of year, fraudulent charities prey on the generosity of ordinary people, and unscrupulous lenders get ready to “assist” people pay for the holidays when in reality, they are just trapping them in a never-ending cycle of debt with their offers.
Trustee Newman is going to address these concerns with fraud awareness by going on a media tour, giving speaking engagements, using social media, sending emails, and engaging in other forms of outreach.
Residents of Shelby County are consistently ranked among the nation’s most generous givers. Despite the fact that our city has a high poverty rate, we are always willing to provide a helping hand to those who are less fortunate. Year after year, our community ranks as one of the highest in charity giving.
Because of this, we are unfortunately in a position where we are easy prey for fraudulent charities. Since the year 2020, the Scamtracker of the Better Business Bureau has received 331 reports of local charity scams in the Shelby County area, resulting in a loss of $52,731.53. Unfortunately, very few victims disclose falling victim to this con.
Due to the fact that it is a donation, the vast majority of the time, people are unaware that they have been conned. Both our hearts and our wallets are being pulled in multiple directions as a result of the apparently endless run of mass killings and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Unfortunately, con artists frequently use these times of weakness to trick donors into parting with their money. In addition, there are frequently campaigns that are launched by individuals who intend to help but who may not be able to follow through with the promised relief efforts.
When there is a significant humanitarian crisis or a tragic catastrophe, you can count on two things: first, the generosity of individuals in Shelby County who want to help, and second, the appearance of fake charities to take advantage of that compassion.
We certainly don’t want to discourage your desire to donate, but we do want to assist you in ensuring that the money you give will be put to use in the way that you envision it being used. Because of this, we collaborated with our friends at the Better Business Bureau to provide the following advice, which you should take into consideration before making a donation.
How can this be avoided?
Donate to groups with experience
Help can be provided in a prompt and efficient manner by firms that have the necessary experience. Be wary of those that spring out out of nowhere in the aftermath of a terrible event. Verify if they meet all of the requirements to be designated as a 501(c)3 charity organization.
Be wary of the term "100%."
Claims that all of a donor’s contribution goes directly toward helping those in need are likely inaccurate for most organizations because those organizations must pay administrative costs. You may check by looking at their IRS form 990s, which should be published on their website at the very least. You might also try searching the websites www.irs.gov and www.guidestar.org.
Give goods instead of money
Donating money is the quickest method to help, and it gives the charity the flexibility to direct resources to the areas that are most affected by the disaster. Even though it’s tempting to clean out your closets and give the items you find to those who are less fortunate, doing so requires you to sort through the items, possibly clean them, and transport them. On the other hand, money can be used to buy precisely what is required at the location where it is required.
Websites that facilitate “crowdfunding” are used to help disseminate the tales of those who are in need of financial assistance. Before you make a donation, you should look over the platform’s policies and processes.
It is important to keep in mind that while some crowdfunding platforms do exercise prudence by thoroughly screening, validating, and moderating postings, others do not. Watch out for appeals that aren’t very specific and don’t explain how the money will be used.
Respect for victims as well as their families
The families of the victims of the catastrophe or tragedy should provide their consent to any organizations or crowdfunding sites that want to use either their names or any photos of the victims of the disaster or tragedy.
Look for celebrity fundraising plans
Before contributing to a celebrity’s fundraising endeavor, it is important to look past the celebrity and into the specifics of what they are asking for. Are they acting on behalf of a legitimate charitable organization? Is this person speaking as a paid spokesperson?
It is of even more importance for groups to offer an accounting of how the monies they raised in response to a catastrophe were spent after the funds have been raised. Transparent organizations will publish this information on their websites so that it may be seen by anybody at any time, eliminating the need for anyone to wait until the audited financial statements are made accessible at some point in the future. Records of earlier donations can be seen on IRS Form 990.
Tragedies that entail violent acts carried out with firearms have the potential to generate requests from a range of parties that are concerned about gun use. Donors can also assist these activities; however, it is important to note that not all of these organizations are charities, and the money they raise may not necessarily go toward relief operations.
When assessing a charity, it is important to rely on the opinion of professionals. Donations should be made to organizations that are accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and are listed on the Give.org website. You can verify the validity of the organizations to which you are contemplating donating by visiting GuideStar (www.guidestar.org) and Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org). Both of these websites are available online.
Sources & Attribution
- Author: Regina Newman https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/opinion/2022/06/23/charitable-hearts-shelby-county-must-aware-donation-scams/7697182001/
- Author: Carter Malone https://cmgpr.com/november-is-national-fraud-awareness-month-shelby-county-trustee-launches-wallet-warning-consumer-fraud-campaign/
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