Author Topic: Got a letter thanking me for a charitable donation I never made. Scam?  (Read 1351 times)

frozen

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I received a voicemail message, followed by 3 snail mail letters thanking me for making a donation to The International Rescue Committee (IRC).  I know I have never donated to this organization, so at first I thought this was a scam to get money from me, but I decided to investigate further. I called them and they claim I made the following donations, I know I never made:
2015: $500 from a Fidelity Donor Advised Fund ( I don't have a donor advised fund)
2017: $1000

The rep I spoke with confirmed my address but also had another address on file I have never lived it.

One of the most recent letters I received says I made a donation of $1,000 on 10/2/2019.

My questions are:
Is this some kind of scam by the charity I am not aware of to make me think I donated in the past and should donate again?
Is this some type of identity theft or a way for someone to claim extra tax deductions by making donations in someone else's name?
Or could it just be a mix up and they are crediting these donations to the wrong person?
What are your thoughts?

Frankies Girl

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Re: Got a letter thanking me for a charitable donation I never made. Scam?
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2019, 05:12:08 PM »
According to Charity Navigator, they are a legit charity, and have a decent rating.

Most likely they have your information confused with a similar person's name and for some reason their records pulled your address/number? Very odd.

Is it at all possible that someone you know made a donation in your name/on your behalf? I had a family member do this once and I got on their mailing list and it took a VERY long time to get them to stop mailing me tons of garbage (not a charity I'd choose to support).

https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3898

How did YOU get their contact info to inquire? Did you use the info on the mailings or did you google them? Because they could be a scammer that mails stuff out and hopes to hit someone gullible using a legit charity's name/ratings and put in a scam number/contact, thinking they'd get some usable info somehow, but if the contact info is the same as listed at the site above (or you googled them and landed on their actual contact page) I'd make sure to stress that you have not made any contributions so they are crediting (and contacting) the wrong person and should review their files on this person (especially as the real donations were a significant amount).



« Last Edit: November 15, 2019, 12:32:16 PM by Frankies Girl »

Aegishjalmur

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Re: Got a letter thanking me for a charitable donation I never made. Scam?
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2019, 05:19:01 PM »
I looked up that charity and it seems a pretty legitimate and well rated charity so I would lean towards a mixup and they sent you the information in error.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Rescue_Committee

https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3898

Given they had your phone number, it is possible a friend or family member made a donation in your name, since they usually ask for the contact info to let you know someone made a donation in your name.

When you called did you call the number on the cards or look it up online? Charity fraud is unfortunately a real thing. If you called the actual charity I'd say mixup or donation in your name.

Edit:

Just saw Frankies girl's post after hitting send.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2019, 05:21:06 PM by Aegishjalmur »

jamaicaspanish

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Re: Got a letter thanking me for a charitable donation I never made. Scam?
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2019, 05:37:34 PM »
Can vouch for International Rescue Committee
Our SIL actually works for them
IRC is a legit organization
They are our current charity of choice.
However, in spite of repeated requests to not to spam us with snail mail, we get a monthly update / ask.  Grr.

We continue to support them because we strongly believe in their mission.


Cpa Cat

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Re: Got a letter thanking me for a charitable donation I never made. Scam?
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2019, 07:01:06 PM »
This would be a super weird scam.

There appears to be literally no benefit to it.

NorCal

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Re: Got a letter thanking me for a charitable donation I never made. Scam?
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2019, 11:48:48 AM »
This would be a super weird scam.

There appears to be literally no benefit to it.

I see a huge benefit to it.  Someone got to make a donation to a charity they cared about, and didn't get 7 years worth of junk mail.

That's my hypothesis.

mm1970

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Re: Got a letter thanking me for a charitable donation I never made. Scam?
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2019, 02:05:06 PM »
Do you have a common name?  Can you google yourself?

We've been getting a lot of phone calls about how my husband used to be a member of this country / golf club, and now that it has closed, they have a new offer.  I finally googled the country club location, and it's about 4-5 hours from here, and so no.

But he's got a REALLY common name.  Very.  You got the wrong guy, folks!

honeybbq

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Re: Got a letter thanking me for a charitable donation I never made. Scam?
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2019, 02:49:03 PM »
Any chance someone made donations in your name?

frozen

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Re: Got a letter thanking me for a charitable donation I never made. Scam?
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2019, 12:39:20 PM »
Thank you everyone for your feedback and confirming this is a legit charity. I confirmed the phone number I called was a legit number listed on their website. I donít have a common name, but I am going to assume they simply mixed me up with someone else, as I canít imagine anyone has been donating to them in my name since 2015. Interestingly, I noticed that the International Rescue Committee was profiled on 60 Minutes this past Sunday.

tyrannostache

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Re: Got a letter thanking me for a charitable donation I never made. Scam?
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2019, 04:59:28 PM »
IRC is a legit organization, but that doesn't mean someone isn't trying to scam you. However, I think it's more likely that you just got mixed up with someone else.

Funny thing about donor-advised funds: when a charity receives a gift from a DAF, it often just shows up as a check from the bank that manages the fund with no indication of who made the gift. I don't believe the bank can disclose that information. Different orgs have different methods to attempt to keep track of potential donations so they are on the lookout, but it's not perfect. Somewhere out there is a generous donor who thinks that the rude IRC never thanked them for their gift.

As a side note, on behalf of all nonprofit fundraisers everywhere, I apologize for the unwanted snail mail. But we are going to keep sending it. Here's the problem: for many orgs, those annoying letters actually work, especially with the demographic that actually donates to charity in large numbers (65+).

frozen

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Re: Got a letter thanking me for a charitable donation I never made. Scam?
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2019, 07:18:29 PM »

Funny thing about donor-advised funds: when a charity receives a gift from a DAF, it often just shows up as a check from the bank that manages the fund with no indication of who made the gift. I don't believe the bank can disclose that information. Different orgs have different methods to attempt to keep track of potential donations so they are on the lookout, but it's not perfect. Somewhere out there is a generous donor who thinks that the rude IRC never thanked them for their gift.

That is probably what happened ó the donation from the donor advised fund was tracked to the wrong person. Makes total sense.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Got a letter thanking me for a charitable donation I never made. Scam?
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2019, 01:24:06 AM »
Funny thing about donor-advised funds: when a charity receives a gift from a DAF, it often just shows up as a check from the bank that manages the fund with no indication of who made the gift. I don't believe the bank can disclose that information.

Interesting. We have a Vanguard DAF and when we recommend a gift they give us an option of what information we want sent to the charity. We can give our own name (with or without contact information attached), someone else's name, or leave it anonymous. The information definitely does seem to get through to them in the end, as we always seem to get thank you letters even from charities we've never donated to except from the DAF.

Quote
As a side note, on behalf of all nonprofit fundraisers everywhere, I apologize for the unwanted snail mail. But we are going to keep sending it. Here's the problem: for many orgs, those annoying letters actually work, especially with the demographic that actually donates to charity in large numbers (65+).

The amount of wasted paper does make me sad. On the bright side there are several charities that habitually send pre-stamped envelopes with their donation requests. We slap blank mailing labels over the charity's address and use them if we actually need to mail something. Haven't needed to buy stamps for years.