In the wake of the tragic Boston Marathon bombings, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is warning Oregon consumers to be on the lookout for phony charities collecting money for the victims.
Scam artists are getting better at exploiting disasters for personal gain. According to news accounts, a fake Twitter account appeared almost immediately after the bombings in Boston, using the handle @_BostonMarathon. It offered to donate $1 for every retweet. The Twitter account quickly vanished after users warned the account was fake.
"Scammers came out in force after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, after Hurricane Katrina, and after Superstorm Sandy," said Ellen Klem, Director of Consumer Outreach and Education. "They’ll try once again after Monday’s senseless bombing. Don’t let them prosper off the tragedy. Be generous, but skeptical."
Consumers should remember the following tips:
-DO NOT give personal information, such as credit card or bank account numbers over the phone.
-Checks should always be made payable to the organization, NOT the person collecting the donation.
-BEWARE callers who ask for your money first. When solicited by phone, always ask the caller to send youu written materials about the charity. No legitimate organization will ask you to donate immediately.
-DO NOT donate CASH. Legitimate charities will be pleased to accept a contribution by check. DO NOT send contributions with a "runner", by wire, or overnight parcel pickup service.
-Be sure you are giving to a legitimate organization registered with the Oregon Department of Justice, by seraching the department's online databse at www.oregonconsumer.gov <http://www.oregonconsumer.gov>,or by calling 971-673-1880. You can also visit www.guidestar.org <http://www.guidestar.org>, a national clearinghouse of information about charities and their performance.
The Oregon Department of Justice, a national leader in policing charities, licenses and regulates more than 18,000 non-profits. In 2012, the department took legal action against more than 20 non-profits for misleading solicitations.
Anyone who thinks they may have been contacted by a scammer should call the DOJ’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-877-877-9392 or go to the Oregon Department of Justice web site: www.oregonconsumer.gov <http://www.oregonconsumer.gov>.