Salvation Army warning of donation fraud


by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and photojournalist DEREK RASOR

Posted on December 13, 2012 at 7:16 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 13 at 7:35 PM

AUSTIN -- Stealing is bad enough, but thieves are doing it over the phone under the guise of the Salvation Army.

For the second time in two weeks, someone is stealing donations while pretending to be with the Salvation Army.

A week ago, a man dressed up with a fake Salvation Army homemade kettle on the side of the road. Police have not made an arrest in that case. Now, at least two Austin women got calls to their homes, asking for donations and credit card information.

"If they do get a call from the Salvation Army they should be very suspicious," said Salvation Army spokesman Randy Allen.

One of the victims says the caller was very aggressive. She donated $50 but called the Salvation Army afterward, only to discover it was not really someone from the charity. The victim canceled her credit card and reported the fraud to her bank.

"We hear from consumers who've had issues with shipping holiday gifts, shopping, giving to charities," said Erin Rodriguez of the Better Business Bureau.

Rodriguez says they've gotten several other fraud complaints this year, including fake websites, people stealing packages and requests for people to call overseas numbers, racking up long-distance phone bills.

Rodriguez says never give sensitive personal information over the phone. She also recommends to track packages electronically, make charity contributions with a check and report suspicious websites, messages and emails.

"Just to ensure you're protecting yourself and protecting your gifts, your goods and your money at the same time," said Rodriguez.

The Salvation Army has ordered a cease and desist on all calls to its donors. They will begin calling people again next year in January. If you get a call before then, report it to police or the Salvation Army.