Latest Information on Scams and Reported Fraud
Across the nation – including in the state of Connecticut – genetic testing company representatives are offering “free” genetic tests to Medicare beneficiaries. While this may sound harmless, in reality it is dangerous. These companies can steal people’s medical identity and falsely bill Medicare, draining the system of needed funds.
Scams targeting those on Medicare
IRS Impersonator Scammers are at it again
Did You Know? The United States Postal Inspection Service Fights Fraud Against the Elderly:
Disasters Breed Fraudulent Charities
- Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity. Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other Web sites, as they might not have fully researched the listed relief organizations. The public can go to give.org to research charities and relief organizations to verify that they are accredited by the BBB and meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
- Be cautious about online giving, especially in response to spam messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization.
- Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the disaster impact areas. Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to get new aid workers to quickly provide assistance. See if the charity’s website clearly describes what they can do to address immediate needs.
- Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups. Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, you may want to consider “avoiding the middleman” and giving directly to charities that have a presence in the region. Or, at a minimum, check out the ultimate recipients of these donations to ensure the organizations are equipped to effectively provide aid.
- Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims. Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fund raising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee. If a charity claims that 100 percent of collected funds will be assisting earthquake victims, the truth is that the organization is still probably incurring fund raising and administrative expenses. They may use some of their other funds to pay this, but the expenses will still be incurred.
- Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations. In-kind drives for food and clothing—while well intentioned— may not necessarily be the quickest way to help those in need - unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to be able to properly distribute such aid. Ask the charity about their transportation and distribution plans.
- Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.
- Look for details when texting a donation. Beginning with
the earthquake in Haiti back in 2010, it’s become common to send a text to make
a donation. Make sure you understand the amount to be donated, and whether there
will be any service fees charged to your account. Be sure the offer clearly
identifies which charity will receive the donation, then check out the charity.
Tips on Avoiding Fraudulent Charitable Contribution Email Schemes
- Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
- Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
- Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
- To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
- Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization's website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
- Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organiation by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
- Do not provide personal or financial information to
anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise
your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.