Olympia Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Secretary of State Kim Wyman are warning people not to fall victim to fake fundraisers using the 2013 Boston Marathon tragedy to scam people out of money.
"People in Washington are so giving and so kind-hearted that their first impulse after a tragedy or natural disaster is to open their checkbooks to charities that purport to offer relief and assistance," Wyman said. "I applaud that reaction, but people also need to use a certain amount of caution and judgment. We know that many legitimate, well-known charities with a good track record will be soliciting donations, but we also know that some unscrupulous rip-off artists will also try to cash in."
A news release from Ferguson's office offers the following tips for people wanting to help:
- Only give to charities you know and trust, or do plenty of research before you donate.
- Be suspicious of immediate donation requests. Scammers will capitalize on the urgent need to help.
- Remember, you don't need to donate right away. Take your time to research and donate to a legitimate organization offering assistance to victims.
- Don't pay with cash. Pay by check and make it out to the charity's full name -- not to the fundraiser.
- Never give your credit card number to a fundraiser over the phone.
- If the fundraiser comes to your door, always ask for identification. Or, take the fundraiser's information and mail your check directly to the charity.
- Some phony charities and non-profits have sympathetic-sounding names, or names that closely resemble those of respected, legitimate charities.