The Indiana Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division is warning Hoosiers that a person or group of people is posing as a representative of the Department of Child Services in order to fraudulently solicit charitable donations over the phone. Reports indicate the caller claims that someone in the home committed to a donation a month ago and this is a follow up call to confirm the donation. Some consumers have reported their caller i.d. display shows "Child Services" when the call is received. Government agencies or departments will never solicit charitable donations and these calls are a ploy to steal money, identities or both.
Deputy Attorney General Abigail Kuzma, Director of the Consumer Protection Division, offers these tips:
1. Don't be pressured into making a contribution. Ask the caller for written information on the charitable organization, including the charity's name, address, and telephone number. A legitimate charity should be willing to send you materials outlining the charity's purpose and how your donation will be used. You should check out the charity with some of the independent organizations that provide information on charities.
2. Watch out for charities with familiar sounding names. Some charitable organizations use names that are very similar to those of respected organizations. You should check with some of the independent organizations that provide information on charities to make sure you are donating to the correct charity.
3. Beware of callers who claim endorsement by the state. Under Indiana law, a person who solicits charitable contributions may not use the fact of registration as an endorsement by the State of Indiana.
4. Be suspicious if a caller thanks you for making a pledge that you didn't make. If you have any doubt about whether you made a pledge, check your records. Beware of invoices claiming you've made a pledge when you know you have not. Do not share your social security number, bank account number, medicare number or other personal information.
5. You can cancel a pledge prior to making a contribution. Under Indiana law, a contributor has the right to cancel a pledge for monetary contributions at any time prior to making the contribution.
"Government agencies, including DCS, can not and do not solicit donations ever. If you receive a call from someone saying otherwise, hang up. Scams disguised as charities are especially disheartening because not only do those making a donation lose, so do all the legitimate charities that could have put the money to good use benefiting our communities," Kuzma said. "It's important to ask questions and don’t feel pressured to give. Any legitimate non-profit is going to be happy to provide you with more information about their services and programs so you can make an informed decision about donating."
Victims of scams in Indiana are encouraged to submit a complaint to the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division online at www.IndianaConsumer.com or by calling 1-800-382-5516. To reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls, sign up for Indiana's Do Not Call list or confirm a number is on the list by visiting www.IndianaConsumer.com or by calling 1-888-834-9969.
To research a particular charitable organization, visit these websites:
Association of Fundraising Professionals