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CONSUMER ALERT: Don’t Fall Victim to Holiday Charitable Donation Scams

11/16/2018

For Immediate Release: Friday, November 16, 2018
Contact: Communications@myfloridacfo.com, 850.413.2842 
 
CONSUMER ALERT: Don’t Fall Victim to Holiday Charitable Donation Scams
 
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—The holiday season is here and that means charitable donation scams are too. Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis warns Floridians to be on alert for online charitable donation scams, typically using reputable crowdfunding websites such as GoFundMe, RocketHub, or YouCaring.
 
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “In 2016, one out of four households were impacted by scams and cost individuals and families $50 billion. Recent reports uncovered that the scam involving a New Jersey couple who raised nearly $400,000 on GoFundMe for a homeless man was a joint scheme by the couple and man to cash in. With the holidays right around the corner, it’s important that everyone be on the lookout for charitable donation scams that prey on the giving spirit and then steal from those who need it most. It’s unconscionable.
 
“My office will continue to work to develop long-term solutions to go after these scammers and protect your money.”
 
Tips to Avoid Holiday Online Donation Scams:
 
1. The More Information the Better. Stay away from donation campaigns that don’t provide adequate information about where the money will go and the relief it will provide.
 
2. Ignore Email or Texts from Unknowns. If you receive a solicitation to donate online via email or text from an entity or person you don’t know, delete it. These are almost always scams. 

3. Ask Questions. Typically, there are ways to comment on an online donation campaign. Use that tool to ask questions about how the money will be distributed, who the money will go to, and even how much goes to directly support efforts.
 
4. Check Social Media & Research. If a group or individual is unfamiliar to you, research and research again. Scam artists will often times create a social media page right before they launch the donation campaign, so check to see how long their account has been active. Even check the image they used for their profile to see if it’s a stock image, which is a good indication the campaign is a scam. Even if the name of the group or individual sounds familiar, always do your homework.
 
5. Keep Records. Be sure to note exactly how much you donated, the name of the individual or group launching the donation campaign and any additional information that has been supplied. Even consider taking a screenshot of the web page.
 
6. Don’t Feel Pressured. Those who are running online scams typically try to pressure you to donate IMMEDIATELY. 
 
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About CFO Jimmy Patronis
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a statewide elected official and a member of Florida’s Cabinet, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).