Reports from Midland, Waco and Fort Worth have revealed a charity scam on the rise. Scammers are posing as local priests and pastors in order to text and call local consumers asking for gift cards or wire transfers, allegedly for charitable purposes. It is always important to be aware if someone approaches you asking for a donation, even if they claim to be a trustworthy figure or representing a good cause, to do your research before giving to the charity.
Charity scams were one of the top 10 riskiest scams that affected businesses in 2018, according to BBB’s Small Business Scams research report. More than 300 consumers reported charity scams to BBB Scam Tracker nationwide in 2018, with claimed losses ranging as far as $10 to $75,000.
Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas has the following tips to avoid falling victim to this scam:
>> Ask questions. Ask the caller their name, what church they work for and what charity they’re collecting for. Some scammers may hang up, others may give you answers. Any reputable charity will be happy to pass along their information and let you make an informed decision before donating.
>> Do your research. Search online to see if the church is actually real, or in your area. Also be sure to research the charity they claim to be donating to; you can go to give.org and view charity reports through BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance. Be diligent with your research, scammers will often use names that sound similar to established charities.
>> Call the church. If the caller gives you the name of a church in the area, look up their phone number and call to ask if they are actively collecting for a charity. If they are not collecting donations, they may want to know that people are using their church’s name in a scam so they can warn local consumers and parishioners to be on the lookout.
>> Have a refusal script. If you are approached by someone asking for a donation it is always a good idea to have a refusal script ready. Let them know you have made all of your charitable contributions for the year, but you will be happy to consider their organization in the future. Reputable charities will be happy to give you their information for future donations. If they become aggressive that you must donate now, this is probably a scam.
>> Report it. If a scammer contacts you pretending to be a pastor or priest, call your local sheriff’s office and file a report at bbb.org/ScamTracker.
To donate to causes you care about and find charities you can trust, go to give.org. For more on charity scams, visit bbb.org.