Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holiday Giving : Be Generous Be Helpful Be Safe


Be of good cheer, the most festive time of the year is nearly here! It is time to break out the wrapping paper and bows and dash off to the mall for that perfect gift. Truly this is a season of giving and Canadians are among the most generous people in the world (according to a poll conducted by The Guardian newspaper). The holiday season is an especially important time for charities as the largest portion of their annual collections is given at this time of the year. But you should exercise caution when making a charitable donation. Some thieves masquerade as Good Samaritans. Most charitable institutions are staffed by honest, caring individuals and the majority of the money they raise is used to benefit people in need. However, there have been cases where selfish individuals have used donations to enrich themselves. There are also scammers who solicit contributions for fake charities. Again, these greedy Grinchs are few and far between, but they are out there and you need to beware of them. Securitas encourages all of our employees to take our core values of Integrity, Vigilance, and Helpfulness to heart. In that spirit, Securitas hopes that you will all support worthy charities and help protect your families and communities from unscrupulous fakers. To assist you in spotting the wolves amongst the charitable lambs, here are a few useful tips that you can share with your family and friends.

How to Spot a Charity Scam

Here are some tips to help you give safely to trustworthy causes.

  • Beware of a solicitor who will not provide detailed information about the charity’s identity, mission, costs, and how the donation will be used.
  • Ask for detailed information about the charity, including name, address, and telephone number. Look up the phone number to see if it matches and then call the charity. Find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name. 
  • Get the exact name of the organization and do some research. Searching the name of the organization online—especially with the word “complaint(s)” or “scam”— is one way to learn about its reputation. 
  • Check out the charity by contacting the Charity Intelligence Canada (http://www.charityintelligence.ca/) or Canada Revenue Agency (http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html) 
  • Do not provide your credit or check card number, bank account number, or any personal information until you have thoroughly researched the charity.
  • Refuse any telephoned request for cash or to wire money.
  • If they use high pressure tactics to try to get you to make a pledge before you have had time to think it over.
  • If the solicitor thanks you for a previous pledge that you cannot recall making there is a good chance they are trying to scam you. 
  • If you are offered a guaranteed sweepstakes winning in exchange for a contribution, you can bet it is a scam. 
  • Be wary of charities that spring up too suddenly in response to current events and natural disasters. Even if they are legitimate, they probably don’t have the infrastructure to get the donations to the affected area or people.

The Salvation Army asks that you be cautious of bell-ringing impostors on the sidewalks. Real solicitors will have all-red kettles on a black stand with a small sign sporting the organization’s logo and their kettles will be padlocked. Also, check with store managers or local police to see if the solicitor has been given permission to be there. Legitimate Salvation Army bell ringers are only in locations where they have been permitted to be stationed. So be sure to check for authenticity before you toss your money in the kettle. As a Securitas officer, and a good citizen, you should keep your eyes and ears open and your wallet shut until you are positive that a solicitor is legitimate. Report to the police any suspicious appearance or activity of persons soliciting for charitable donations. Not only will you be preventing a possible crime, but you may also be helping the genuine charities collect more by preventing donations from being hijacked by fakers.

1 Source: The Guardian.com, http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/sep/08/charitable-giving-country

2 Source: The National Center for Charitable Statistics, http://nccsdataweb.urban.org/knowledgebase/detail.php?linkID=857&category=22&xrefID=32

This guide is for informational purposes only and does not contain Securitas Canada’s complete policy and procedures. For more information, contact your Supervisor or Branch Manager.