Scammers using firefighter charity to steal credit card information

by: Henry Rosoff Updated:

One of the organizations that helped Daniel Lyon, who was badly burned fighting deadly wildfires this season, was Washington State Council of Firefighters Burn Foundation.

The foundation helps burned children and their families, as well as injured firefighters.  Now someone is using the WSCFF’s good name to scam people.

“It’s just shocking to me that someone would even think to do this,” said Jana Worthington, who got called by the fake firefighters three times.

Each time they tried to convince Worthington they were with the Burn Foundation.

“It’s just so arrogant and so wrong in so many ways,” Worthington said.

“It irritates me because we work hard to keep a good reputation,” said Melissa Beard with the WSCFF.

Beard said her organization never cold calls asking for cash.  It relies on events like auctions and golf outings.

So do not be fooled if you get a call from a fake firefighter this holiday season.  Worthington said they’ll go right after your credit card information over the phone.

“I’ve been around long enough to know that’s a bad idea, but I’m fearful for the people that don’t know that’s a bad idea and think they are donating to a great cause when in fact they’re not,” Worthington said.

Report donation scams for the Federal Government: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1

Some tips from the Better Business Bureau on giving this Holiday Season:

•  If you are unfamiliar with an organization, don't hesitate to ask the charity for written information about its programs and finances.

•  Don't succumb to pressure to give money on the spot. A charity that can use your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow. Watch out for appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but tell you nothing about how your donation will be used.

•  Before making online donations, determine whether the charity’s website is secure and that it has a privacy policy concerning the use of your name, email address or other personal facts. (Secure sites’ addresses begin with https://.)

•  When considering support for a cause-related marketing campaign, find the answers to these questions: What portion of the purchase price will benefit the charity? What is the duration of the campaign? What is the maximum or minimum total contribution? If the information is not on the item, check the organization’s website.

•  Before donating used items, make sure they are in good shape to reuse. Donating junk puts an undue burden on the charity and could do more harm than good. You may want to consider selling the item and donating the proceeds to a charity.