Sheriff warns of fraudulent firemen's fundraising calls

·3 min read

Jul. 28—Delaware County Sheriff Craig DuMond warned Tuesday that fraudulent fundraising calls that are being received in the area.

According to a media release, the sheriff's office was recently notified by a resident of the receipt of a scam fundraising call. The resident had received a telephone call from an individual claiming to be National Fireman's Association, aggressively soliciting personal identifying information as well as a monetary donation. The caller terminated the call after solicitation attempts were unsuccessful.

DuMond urged people to consider the following facts before acting:

—Simply having the words "police," "firefighter" or "emergency responder" in an organization's name does not mean police, firefighters or emergency medical workers are members of the group, or that it is a legitimate, recognized organization.

—Just because an organization claims it has local ties or works with local police, firefighters or emergency medical providers doesn't mean contributions will be used locally or for public safety. The organization should be able to provide written information describing the programs donations will support, and their fund-raising costs before you donate.

—Most solicitations for police and fire service organizations are made by paid professional fund-raisers who will not request or demand personal identifying information such as date of birth, social security number or financial account information.

—Donations to some police or firefighter groups may not be tax deductible. Many kinds of organizations are tax exempt, including fraternal organizations, labor unions and trade associations, but donations to them may not be tax deductible.

—As a result of the fraudulent fundraising calls that are being made each day soliciting donations, the "vast majority" of local police and fire service organizations will only solicit donations through local fund drive mailings. Telephonic fund raising activities are generally announced in advance of any fundraising campaign.

DuMond advised that taking the following precautions can help ensure that donation dollars will best benefit the local community and the people and organizations intended:

—Don't act impulsively or be intimidated when you receive one of these calls.

—Research the organization and then call the organization or your local law enforcement or fire department to verify a fund-raiser's claim to be collecting on behalf of the organization or department. If the claim cannot be verified, report the solicitation to law enforcement officials.

—Ask fund-raisers for identification. Many states require paid fund-raisers to identify themselves as such and to name the organization for which they're soliciting.

—Ask how your contribution will be used. Ask what percentage of your contribution will go to the fire or police organization, department, or program. Also ask if your contribution will be used locally. Ask for written information; it will buy you time and help you make a more informed decision.

—Ask if your contribution is tax-deductible. Make your check payable to the official name of the group or charity. Avoid cash and credit or debit card donations; Cash can be lost or stolen and credit/debit card accounts can be compromised.

—Be wary if a fund-raiser suggests you'll receive special treatment for donating. For example, no legitimate fund-raiser would guarantee that you won't be stopped for speeding if you have a police organization's decal in your car window. Don't feel intimidated about declining to donate. A caller who uses intimidation tactics is likely to be a scam artist. Report the call to your local law enforcement officials.

—Above all, do not provide the caller with your personal identifying information such as your date of birth or social security number.

—Consider supporting your local volunteer fire departments, firefighters and emergency medical providers at the local level, through one of their annual fundraising events, whether it be their local field days, dinners, fund drive mailings or other events.

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