Door-to-Door Charity Fraud

How Does it Happen?

A stranger comes to your door, and asks for a donation to a charity. For real, or is it a fraud?

Almost every month, some stranger (uusually armed with brochures & "credentials" from a well-known charity) is asking for a donation to charity. How do can you know they won't just keep the money for themselves?

And should you trust charity they claim to represent?

Less often, but several times times a year, we see bunches of people soliciting for the same obscure -- usually mainland-based -- charity. Some of those charities are actually more of a "business". The solicitors and their management are well-paid paid. Most (possibly all) of your donation will go towards paying those "expenses"; little (if any) will go towards the "cause" they say they are soliciting donations for.

Prevention

It's usually impossible to tell -- with someone right there at your door -- whether they are really soliciting for a real charity or not.

Perhaps it's best to tell them you never hand out cash (or a check) to anyone who comes to your door.

If you might want to consider giving to the charity they claim to represent, tell them you'd rather mail a check to the charity, and ask them for the charity's mailing address. After they leave, you can check out the charity (and its mailing address) on-line by Googling for the name of the charity.

Every charity (local or non-local) which solicits contributions in Hawaii (by any means) is required by law to register with the Attorney General's office. There is a registry you can search at:

http://ag.ehawaii.gov/charity/search.html

For local charities, more information about the charity itself is usually available may be available from the Better Business Bureau Review at:

http://hawaii.bbb.org/Find-Business-Reviews/

For a non-local charity, do a Google search for the name of the charity to learn about its reputation, and to check its mailing address.

After you send a donation by check, a bona fide charity should always write back in return, acknowledging your contribution. If you contribute on-line via credit card, you should get a e-mail in return. Either serves to back up a charitable contribution claim on your federal and state income tax return.