Charity Fraud Podcast Transcript


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Welcome to the Informed Consumer, providing the latest tips and tools to assist consumers in making informed decisions, from the Fairfax County Consumer Affairs Branch.

Today’s topic is: Charity Fraud.

A tragic event, such as an earthquake or hurricane, often prompts an outpouring of assistance from well-meaning residents.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation reminds consumers who receive appeals to donate money in the aftermath of a natural disaster to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before responding to requests.  Past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization and/or good cause.  Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, including the following:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited incoming e-mails, or spam, by clicking on links contained within those messages.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
  • Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by using various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.
  • Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses.  Only open attachments from known senders.
  • Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
  • If you are solicited by a charity, don’t feel rushed or pressured into making an immediate commitment.  Ask the caller or solicitor to provide written information about the charity’s programs and finances before you make a contribution.
  • You may obtain independent verification of the solicitor’s identity before sending a contribution by contacting the Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-552-9963.

Some of the major charities assisting in disaster relief efforts are:

  • The American Red Cross which can be reached at  1-800-HELP-NOW
  • The Salvation Army at 1-800-SAL-ARMY
  • and The United Way at 1-800-272-4630

Thanks for listening to the Informed Consumer. For more information on this topic or if you feel that you’ve been a victim of a scam, please contact the Consumer Affairs Branch at 703-222-8435 or visit our web site at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer. Informed Consumer is produced by the Fairfax County, Virginia, government.



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