| NEWS RELEASE
UNITED STATES POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE
For further information call:
Postal Inspector Paul Krenn: 703-292-3803
September 7, 2005
Postal Inspectors Advise Caution Before Giving: Make Sure Your Money Supports Legitimate Charities
Giving to charity helps others, leaves you feeling good about yourself and can even mean a tax deduction. Most charities are legitimate organizations that support good causes. Some, however, are run by swindlers. With more than 700,000 federally recognized charities soliciting for charitable contributions, it pays to be cautious when making a donation.
Disasters and crises bring out the best in people who truly desire to help those impacted by these situations. Unfortunately, disasters also bring out the worst; those who use the circumstances to prey on victims. Postal Inspectors saw numerous charity scams emerge in the days following the September 11 terrorist attacks and the 2004 Southeast Asia earthquake and tsunami.
The Hurricane Katrina disaster that hit the Gulf Coast offers a new opportunity for charity scammers. If you're considering a contribution to help with relief efforts, it's important to know where your donation dollars will go. Most states require charities to be registered or licensed by the state. Your state Attorney General's office lists state charity regulators at the National Association of State Charity Officials Web site at www.nasconet.org.
Postal Inspectors vigorously investigate fraudsters who deceive contributors. Scam artists who misrepresent charities via the U.S. Mail, e-mail, or telephone may be prosecuted under the mail fraud statute -- which carries substantial fines, along with prison terms of up to 20 years.
U.S. Postal Inspectors offer these additional precautions: