QUESTION: The holiday charity and fundraiser requests have already started to arrive in the mail and on the phone. Do you have any advice on how to avoid scams?
ANSWER: A timely and excellent question. Giving to charities and supporting fundraisers is a way of American life – but we want to make sure our hard earned dollars go to a good cause and not to a scammer’s pocket.
Before deciding to give do some research to make sure your donation benefits the people, activity or organization you want to support.
If the request is for a fundraiser for a specific charity – call the charity to determine if they are aware of the requests and have authorized it. Also ask what percentage of your gift will be used for the fundraiser itself and what will be going to the charity.
Make sure you know the detailed information including the organization’s exact name, official address and telephone number. Perhaps searching the name of the organization on-line, especially with the word “complaint” or “scam” to see if there have been previous problems.
Avoid any request that refuses to provide detailed information about its identity, mission and how the donation will be used or won’t provide proof that a contribution is tax deductible.
If the name used closely resembles that of a better known, reputable organization it would be wise to do more research.
Any time the caller uses high-pressure tactics to get you to donate immediately, asks for donations in cash or to wire money or offers to send a courier for overnight delivery service should raise a red flag.
A better way to support your choice of charities is to make an annual donation plan of giving. Never send cash – the best way would be by check made payable to the charity never to the person making the request or by credit card. Always keep a record of your donations.
If you think you have been a victim file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at consumer.ftc.gov or call (877) 382-4357.
You can also check to determine if a charity is legitimate by contacting the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance at www.bbb.org/us/charity or Charity Navigator at www.charitynavigator.org.
HAPPENINGS: (October 28 through November 3)
TUESDAY – October 30 – 1:30 to 3:00 pm – Presentation – “Healthy Eating Strategies for Seniors” – at Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley. Call (805) 583-6363 for reservations.
WEDNESDAY – October 31 – 9:00 am – Halloween Breakfast Buffet & Costume Contest – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Tickets are $5.00. Call (805) 381-2744 for more information.
SATURDAY – November 3 – Thousand Oaks Dance Club – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Doors open at 6:00 pm, dance lesson (the Salsa) from 6:30 to 7:20 and the dance from 7:30 to 10:00 pm. Admission is $8.00 per person. For more information call (805) 381-2744.
SATURDAY – November 3 – 9:00 am to 2:00 pm – Alzheimer’s Association’s “Sixth Annual Empowering the Caregiver Resource Fair” – at Oxnard Family Circle, 2100 Outlet Center Drive, Suite 380 in Oxnard. Respite care provided by Oxnard Family Circle and lunch by Pacific Senior Living. Event is free but seating is limited. Registration is required and can be made by calling (800) 272-3900.
THURSDAY – November 8 – 2:00 to 4:00 pm – Presentation – “Ask a Nurse: How to Help the Person You Care For Avoid Hospitalization” – at Comfort Keepers Offices, 3249 Old Conejo Road in Newbury Park. The presentation is free but reservations are required by November 1st and can be made by calling (805) 494-9900.
Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are located at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362 or call (805) 495-6250 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (please include your telephone number.) You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.