March 16, 2011
Attorney General Bill Schuette today issued a new consumer alert advising
Michigan citizens about how to avoid scams when choosing to support disaster
relief charities. The alert was issued as many consider giving support to
charities assisting with recovery efforts after earthquakes and a devastating
tsunami in Japan.
"Even during tough times, the people of Michigan give generously
to charities that assist disaster victims around the world," said Schuette.
"It's important to take steps to ensure your dollars are not lost to fraud and
your financial information remains secure."
Schuette noted that scam artists will attempt to exploit the generosity of
Michigan citizens in the wake of natural disasters. Criminals may solicit
donations for bogus or even legitimate charities, keeping the funds for
themselves. Scam artists may also exploit donors' sensitive financial
information like credit card and checking account numbers to commit fraud and
The Attorney General consumer alert announced today offers advice on how
Michigan citizens can avoid scams and safely contribute to critical relief and
rebuilding projects, including:
skeptical of unsolicited email requests for donations, even if they appear to be
from a legitimate charity. Email is a common method used by thieves to steal
personal information, whether through a fake online donation form, or a more
sinister computer virus.
· Be skeptical of unsolicited cell phone text
messages and social media appeals through sites like Twitter and Facebook.
While some charities now accept donations via cell phone and social networking
sites, unsolicited requests should be viewed with caution.
· Check up on charities by calling the Attorney
General's Charitable Trust Section. Michigan charities must register with the
Attorney General's office, and many are required to submit financial information
which can be made available to citizens upon request.
· Choose established charitable organizations
that have a history of assisting in disasters. The American Red Cross, United
Way of America, Catholic Relief Services and the Salvation Army are just a few
of many charities that either give immediate relief or assist in rebuilding
communities after disaster.
alert also advises Michigan citizens on how to protect sensitive financial
information and avoid identity theft and fraud. When making a charitable
donation, Schuette recommends the following:
· Make your check payable to the organization,
never to an individual;
· Request and keep receipts from the
organization detailing the amount of your donation, the date and its intended
· Use caution before giving credit card numbers
over the phone or online. If you are concerned, ask the organization how it
will safeguard your financial information; and
· When donating online, ensure you are using a
secure web page for financial transactions. In most cases, secure sites will be
preceded by "https://".
consumer alert entitled Support Disaster Relief - But Avoid Scammers
is available online at
www.michigan.gov/agcharities, and the full text is below.
Attorney General Schuette encourages
residents with questions or concerns to contact the Attorney General's Consumer
Charitable Trust Section by calling 517-373-1152 to check on a specific charity.