Crisis in Ukraine: Notice of Charity Fraud in Oregon | News
Many Oregonians want to help Ukrainians beleaguered amid Russia’s invasion by contributing to charity, but the Oregon Society of CPAs (OSCPA) warns that scammers want to help too — they want to help themselves with donor money.
Taking the time to research charities can help donors ensure that their donations are used for the intended purpose.
The first step is to determine if the charity is a Sec. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Researching IRS exempt organizations can help. You can also search for a charity through the Oregon Department of Justice.
The GuideStar and Charity Navigator websites offer additional information. GuideStar provides access to recent IRS Forms 990, Income Tax Exempt Organization Statement, which can be used to assess a nonprofit organization’s program expenditures.
Charity Navigator and other organizations rate charities on a number of criteria, but if you’re doing extensive research, it’s worth checking their methodology carefully to make sure you know what the ratings are based on.
Experts advise never giving money over the phone, not clicking on links in email solicitations, and high-pressure tactics to get you paid right away are a danger sign. Other tips include:
- To slow down. You don’t have to give immediately. It bears repeating that doing some research beforehand can potentially save you headaches later.
- Be sure to visit the correct website when making a donation. Again, GuideStar and Charity Navigator can help. Rather than clicking on a link, it would be wise to go to a reputable site to get the URL and then enter it manually.
- Know who is asking. Don’t assume a donation request is legitimate just because a friend posted it on social media. Your friend may not personally know the charity or how it spends the money.
- Do not pay in cash or with a debit card. A credit card offers more security.
- After making a donation, check your accounts regularly. Look for suspicious activity or unauthorized charges and set up notifications, through your bank or banking app, that will track your credit card transactions and alert you to account activity.
If you think you’ve been scammed, contact your financial institution to block your credit card and notify your state’s attorney general, then file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Founded in 1908, the Oregon Society of CPAs is a voluntary association of CPAs engaged in public practice, industry, government and education with approximately 4,000 members. For more information, visit https://www.orcpa.org.