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Be careful with your charitable dollars, don't give to a scam

Many people as they age want to give more to charities. And why shouldn't they? After all, most charities do incredible good for people all over the world, from helping buy supplies for under privileged schools to providing aid after a natural disaster. Many people want to be a part of this assistance, which is why some people even choose to leave assets for certain charities in their will.

But today's post is a cautionary one for any of our Melbourne readers who are considering naming a charity as a beneficiary to a portion of your estate. We'd like to warn our readers today about the fact that some non-profits and charities could be scams. This could end in a devastating way for just about anyone past their retirement age, which is why we're bringing it to your attention now.

We're raising the issue of charity scams today because of recent accusations made by the Federal Trade Commission against four cancer charities who the agency claims took donors' money instead of helping cancer patients. The agency claims that the charities took $187 million from donors who may not have known until now that their money was not being used to help those who have cancer.

Scams like this can not only break a person's trust in charities, they can also damage their assets as well. If the donor is past their retirement age, this could cause them to worry about how their error could affect the integrity of their estate down the road.

It's important to note that redress is possible after falling victim to a charity scam. It can happen after the FTC files a claim against a fraudulent charity or non-profit. If the court sides with the FTC, the damages received from a court order are distributed to victims, allowing them to recoup what they lost. Though the FTC is sometimes able to get victims all of their money back following litigation, this doesn't happen every time. That's because compensation is based on how much the defendant can pay and/or how much the court orders them to pay.

Sources: CNBC, "Before donating, make sure that charity is not a scam," Sarah O'Brien, June 4, 2015

The Federal Trade Commission, "We want to get your money back!" Lisa Lake, March 19, 2014

The Federal Trade Commission, "Questions about Getting Refunds from the FTC," Accessed June 4, 2015

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