ASK THE DA: Check on charities before you donate

April 18, 2013 Charles J. Hynes
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Thankfully, many people contribute monies to the less fortunate amongst us.  I recently learned that I should be cautious of groups soliciting money in the name of the Police Department.  Can you explain what steps should be taken before deciding to respond to such requests for contributions?

                Good natured people often show their generosity by helping others with financial contributions if they can afford to help in this way. The New York City Police Department does not solicit funds from the public and does not utilize telemarketers.

The New York City Police Foundation is the only approved fund-raising organization for the NYPD and recommends that if your receive a telephone call requesting a donation to help widows and children of slain officers, you should obtain as much information as possible, ask for written materials and report them to NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau at 212-741-8401. For additional information, please call 212-751-8170 or visit

                To avoid your kindness being taken advantage of by thieves, and to make certain your generosity is in fact received by your intended beneficiary, be watchful for charities with similar names to those of well-known organizations.

Always investigate the group before making your donation. If very little information is provided, be extremely wary. An established, recognized charity will provide information describing its objectives, how donations are used and proof of your charitable contribution.  For security and tax record purposes, it is important to pay by check to the charity’s official name.

                In addition to telemarketers, remain vigilant for mailed requests for donations. Check the credentials of the organization in question with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance website at

Be equally wary of email solicitations as many unsolicited requests are in fact fraudulent. Be cautious of opening attachments to any such unexpected email solicitations as the attachments may contain viruses.

Finally, walk away from any pressure tactics employed by the charitable solicitor. Well-regarded charities are willing to accept your contribution whenever you are ready to offer it and will always be willing to provide time for you to think about the extent to which you wish to participate.

Should you have any questions, please contact my Citizen’s Action Bureau at 718-250-2340, as well as any of my Neighborhood Offices located throughout the county which can provide assistance and appropriate referrals if you suspect fraud.  The hotline for my Neighborhood Offices is 718-250-2555 for a location nearest you.

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