Wisconsin Better Business Bureau
Press Release

Scam Alert: Donors beware! That police charity may not be what it seems


By - Nov 16th, 2020 07:03 am

Milwaukee, Wis. – BBB ScamTracker has received more than a dozen reports of a nonprofit organization in the past few months, using what consumers think are shady tactics to solicit donations. Potential donors beware! If an organization isn’t a charity, then contributions are not “donations” and cannot be deducted from your taxes.

How the Scam Works

You receive an unsolicited call from someone who claims to be representing a nonprofit organization. The “charity” has a name that includes a law enforcement word (“police,” “trooper,” etc.). There are lots of variations on this scam. The caller explains that the goal of this nonprofit is to help keep police officers, their families, or even police dogs safe.

The organization’s goals may seem noble, but do your research before making a pledge. previous BBB investigation revealed many red flags about one of these groups, including the fact that contributions are not tax-deductible, and no information is available on the organization’s president, board members, and active chapters. According to tax records, only a small fraction of donations made to the organization actually support law enforcement officers. This is just one example of how fundraisers can look and sound like a charity, but actually be lining the pockets of opportunists.

If you begin asking specific questions about the organization or how your money will be used, you may find the caller has no answers for you. In other cases, you are told to call a different number where your questions will also be evaded. Callers often use intimidation tactics or try to make you feel guilty about not supporting their cause. Don’t fall for it!  It’s all a way to get your credit card information and a donation.

How to Avoid Donation Scams

  • Do research before you donate. If a nonprofit organization isn’t completely transparent, it’s impossible to know for sure that your money will support a good cause. Ask for documentation on how much of your contribution will be used for program services and how much will go for fundraising and management expenses.
  • Don’t give in to intimidation tactics. If a caller makes you feel uncomfortable by making you feel guilty or telling you your donation is urgently needed right this minute, it’s best to simply hang up. Intimidation tactics are often used by scammers and are a red flag.
  • Check the charity’s rating on Give.org. For a charity to receive BBB accreditation, it must meet 20 Standards of Accountability covering everything from governance to fundraising. If the organization does not appear on BBB’s website, that does not mean they are not a real charity, but it can be a warning that you need to do more investigation before you give.
  • Give locally. Contact your local or state/provincial law enforcement agency and ask how you can support them. Most agencies have a non-profit “Friends of” type organization and will be happy to refer you to a more worthwhile option.

For More Information

Visit the BBB Wise Giving Alliance website, Give.org for more information on charitable giving. For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2019, people turned to BBB more than 183 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.8 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Wisconsin which was founded in 1939 and serves the state of Wisconsin.

Mentioned in This Press Release

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