Mon March 14, 2011

Coloradans Warned of Charity Scams in Wake of Disaster in Japan

AARP Elder Watch along with the Colorado Secretary of State and Attorney General’s office are warning consumers about possible scams following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

In the wake of such disasters, many people open their wallets to help those affected.  Unfortunately, scammers often prey on that. There haven’t been any formal complaints yet, though there are already some scam e-mail floating around.

“Typically, anytime there’s a national disaster or tragedy we receive notes from consumers that say that they’ve been approached by entities claiming to be charities helping victims where in fact they are just scam artists trying to steal peoples’ money,” says Attorney General Spokesman Mike Saccone.

If you suspect a scam, you can ask for the solicitors registration number or the registration number of their charity.

“And they also should be able to have access to a federal form 990 which is a tax form that all charities must file with the IRS.  If a solicitor can’t get you that information, or direct you to that information, that should be a major red flag,” says Saccone.

Coloradans should be wary of any e-mail solicitations – and when giving, are advised to use checks rather than cash.  Consumers can also check the validity of a charity at: www.checkthecharity.com