Avoiding Charity Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers to be aware of charity fraud. Legitimate charities use direct mail, telemarketing and email campaigns to raise funds; unfortunately, scam artists do too. If someone asks you for money on behalf of a charity, take time to:

  • Get the charity’s name, address, phone number and written information about its programs
  • Make sure the organization has a proven track record (check them out with the National Association of State Charity Officials)
  • Ask what percentage of your contribution goes to the charity’s fundraising costs (and whether the person contacting you is a professional fundraiser).

Read the FTC’s complete Charity Checklist.

Warning signs of a scam include:


  • High pressure tactics
  • A thank you for a pledge to donate money that you don’t remember making
  • Requests for cash
  • Offers to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect your money
  • Guarantees of a sweepstakes winning for making a contribution
  • Charities that spring up overnight (especially those focused on natural disasters or claiming to be for the benefit of police officers,
    veterans or firefighters).  

Learn more about previous Sweep and Operation cases from the FTC.