Protect Yourself from Holiday Phone Scams

Published on November 28, 2017

ARLINGTON, VA — With the holiday season upon us, many are planning their year-end charitable donations. While there are many legitimate organizations that fundraise by phone, the Arlington County Police Department is reminding citizens that representatives of the police department have never and will never call to solicit funds or collect fines.

The holiday season is also a time when criminals aim to take advantage of the public's generosity through creative scams designed to steal money and personal information. When contacted by a charitable solicitor, follow these practices to reduce the likelihood of becoming the victim of a scam:

  • Research the cause and organization you are considering donating to.

  • Ask questions of the solicitor such as whether the caller is from a telemarketing company or works directly for the charity; what programs are conducted by the charity; how much of your donation will be used for a charitable program; and how much the telemarketer guarantees to the charity.

  • See it in writing. Ask the caller to mail you information about the charity, including its annual report or a brochure outlining its accomplishments.

  • Check an organization's reliability by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline — Handled by the Office of the Attorney General, VA toll free at 800-552-9963 or at 804-786-2042.

  • To find out more about the charitable organization and how much your contribution will be used for charitable purposes, call the Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs (OCRP) within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 804-786-1343.

Citizens should be suspicious of any unsolicited phone calls which request funds or claim that you owe money. Never use a phone number provided to you from the caller to verify their credibility.  Do not provide personal information such as bank account numbers to anyone over the phone. For additional crime prevention tips, please visit our website. For additional information on fundraisers calling on behalf of police and firefighters, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.