The question came up on one of the Facebook pages I frequent about a telephone solicitation for a “charity.”
The posted question was: “Two phone calls from cops for kids wanting money? Scam? They did have my name and address…”
Most of the following posts were about advice on how to deal with these types of calls or complaints about robo-callers. One of the posts said that the organization was legitimate and included a link to their website: http://www.copsforkidsinc.org/index.html
Were the phone calls legitimate? I doubt it.
I followed the link to the website and found the following on their About Us page:
Cops for Kids, Inc. will NEVER telemarket with fundraising requests. All of our fundraising is done within Riverside County, California. If you are ever contacted via telephone from someone or some group posing as doing fundraising for our Cops for Kids, Inc. Please call Dave Fontneau, Executive Director for Cops for Kids, Inc. at 951.245.3389 immediately.
Clearly, they do not call people asking for donations and our group is not in Riverside, County, CA.
There is also a Cops for Kids (C4K) group sponsored by the Anaheim (CA) Police Department. They can be reached through the Anaheim City website and through their own website. i called the phone number on their website and asked if they ever solicited donations over the phone; can you guess the answer? Yeah, the answer was: NO.
There is also a Cops for Kids Charitable Foundation located in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, but I didn’t call them — and, I suppose there are numerous other such organizations scattered throughout the US.
If you’d like some advice from me about phone scams and charities, here it is:
- Don’t answer the phone if the number is unknown to you. Even if you are home and in the mood to speak with someone, do not answer but let the call go to your answering machine or voice mail — listen in — if it’s legitimate, they’ll probably leave a message and you can pick up the phone or call them back. One of the problems with answering a robo/telemarketing call is that those people now are quite sure they have a “live” number — they’ll keep calling & they’ll include your number in the lists they sell other scam artists.
- Get a call blocking device, NoMoRobo or a similar service if you can. They don’t stop all bad calls but many don’t get through.
- Do not believe that a “charity” or other caller is legitimate just because they have your information — all of your information is out there and available. Don’t believe it? Google yourself. Anything you’ve posted on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. is available to everyone — and there are data-mining programs finding and collating this information every second of every day. Look up your own phone number on whitepages.com — you may find both your name and address listed. Value of your house, size, when it was built or sold — look it up on zillow.com. Want to know how much your neighbor pays in property taxes — look up his address in the county database. Everything is available out there — sometimes for a price from the bad guys — but it’s there and many of the bad guys have your information.
- Never give your personal information to anyone who calls you. The bank doesn’t call you to check your birthday or your account and credit card numbers. The IRS doesn’t call you to ask for money or threaten to send you to jail. The Social Security System doesn’t call you to verify your account number and whether you’re eligible for its programs. Call your bank with a number you know is legit — better yet, go to your local branch — same goes for the IRS and SS. And one of the latest scams I’ve heard — NO, the county is not going to send a deputy sheriff to arrest you for not paying a fine for not going to jury duty — which you “ignored.”
- No, your grandchild did not get arrested/have a serious accident/get kidnapped and you do not have to buy a gift card to pay his/her bail/emergency medical bills/ransom.
- Yes, keep giving to charities but check them out first: CharityWatch, Charity Navigator, and BBB Wise Giving Alliance are the big three rating agencies. Give to the charity directly, not to an umbrella group — that’s just another layer of bureaucracy soaking up the money rather than helping those you want to help. Give to one, or a few charities, make your money count; don’t give nickels and dimes to a dozen groups.
Who else can you get good, trustworthy advice from?
Friends, personal – not Facebook – who deal with these kinds of things.
Speak with the Public Information Officer at your local police/sheriff agency.
Your bank/credit union may have someone at your local branch.
Your local senior center/social services agency.
Consumer Reports, AARP and the Federal Trade Commission have advice readily available on the web.
Most of the people in this world are good; most of the people you will come into contact with are good; however, a few bad people with today’s computer technology can and do create a host of problems for those who are good.
Keep your eyes open and let common sense be your guide.
Lastly, if you’d like to see my record of the possible scam calls I’ve received look here: http://joeaubuchon.net/suspected-spam-and-or-scam-phone-numbers/
And, my MS Word document of calls I’ve received over the last couple of years now stands at 151 pages in length.
View of a cruise ship from Villa Andonis on our trip in 2016.