If you are considering a donation to a charity, the Missouri Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) warns you to be wary. Charities use the phone, face-to-face contact, email, and the Internet. So do the scammers.

Scammers can change caller ID to make a call look like it’s from a local area code. Some scammers use names that sound a lot like the names of real charities; they make vague and sentimental claims with few specifics.

The Federal Trade Commission (ftc.gov) offers these tips to help keep you safe from scammers:

Before you consider giving to a specific charity, do an online search by entering the organization’s name followed by “complaint, “review,” “rating,” or “scam.”

Use these organizations to help you research charities: BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and Candid. The IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search tells you if your donation would be tax deductible.

Visit https://www.ago.mo.gov to see if the charity is registered to ask for donations.

Be careful how you pay. If someone wants cash, gift cards, or by a wire transfer, don’t do it. That’s how scammers ask you to pay. To be safer, pay by credit card or check.

Keep a record of all donations. Review your statements closely to make sure you’re only charged the amount you agreed to donate. Be careful not to sign up for recurring donations.

Before clicking on a link to donate online, make sure you know who is receiving your donation.

Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation.

This fraud prevention information is brought to you by the Missouri SMP, whose mission is to empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries to prevent, detect and report healthcare fraud, errors, and abuse. As always, report suspected Medicare or Medicaid fraud or abuse to the Missouri SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) at (888) 515-6565.

This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90MPPG0040, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.

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