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RCMP reminds residents to watch for fundraising fraud

Chocolate bar charity makes its way around St. Albert

By: Amy Crofts

  |  Posted: Saturday, Feb 15, 2014 06:00 am

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When canvassers come a knockin'

• Ask for identification. If the solicitor refuses to tell you or does not have some form of verifiable identification, hang up or close the door and report it to law enforcement officials.
• Call the charity. Find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name. If not, you may be dealing with a scam artist.
• Ask for written information about the charity, including name, address and telephone number. A legitimate charity or fundraiser will give you information about the charity's mission, how your donation will be used and proof that your contribution is tax deductible.
• Ask the solicitor for the registered charitable tax number of the charity. Confirm the charity’s registration information through the Canada Revenue Agency (1-800-267-2384).
• Check out the charity's financial information. For many organizations, this information can be found online.
• Refuse high pressure appeals. Legitimate fundraisers won't push you to give on the spot.
• Avoid cash gifts. Cash can be lost or stolen. For security and tax record purposes, it's best to pay by cheque.
• To file a police complaint, contact your local police force (780-458-7700). Also file a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by calling 1-888-495-8501.

A door-to-door fundraiser is making the rounds in St. Albert and some residents are questioning its legitimacy.

Campaigners for Be a Hero – an international charity – have been canvassing area neighbourhoods for donations. With a donation of $20, donors get a chocolate bar.

St. Albertans who got a knock on their door this past week have expressed concern with the volunteers’ lack of identification, inactive phone numbers and QR codes on the product.

Be a Hero sponsors orphans, builds orphanages, schools, clinics and develops micro-enterprises in Africa, Asia, South America and Mexico. The Gazette confirmed with the organization’s head office that the charity has recently partnered with Reno House, an Edmonton-based home renovation business, to solicit donations on the charity’s behalf.

Cpl. Laurel Kading of the St. Albert RCMP said the department received a report Wednesday night regarding a potential scam. Police have not been able to locate the person in question so they cannot confirm if the canvasser was legitimate or not.

“Nine times out of 10 it will be legitimate but there could be that chance someone is simply trying to gain funds for their own purpose,” said Kading.

“It’s unfortunate someone would do that because it hurts the community groups, most often robbing money from kids.”

She said identifiable community groups such as hockey teams or Boy Scouts and Girl Guides will typically be wearing their uniforms.

It is up to the consumer how much they want to screen the person at their door or on the phone, but be vigilant, she said.

Door-to-door solicitation

On Feb. 3 a St. Albert woman received a call from a man who stated he was a service representative from Sears. He offered her a free inspection of the home's furnace and hot water tank, but when he came to the house he had no identification from Sears.

The woman refused to allow the man into her home without ID.

St. Albert RCMP were eventually able to confirm that the serviceman did work for Sears and was legitimately trying to provide a furnace service call.

Even though the visit turned out to be legitimate, Kading said the woman did the right thing.

“We commend her for the steps that she took. When this person didn’t have ID with them, she refused entry and that is what we would recommend,” she said.

“It emphasizes back to the servicemen that they need to take that extra step to make sure they have their ID with them and the appropriate working papers.”

Kading said residents need to be wary of inviting people into their homes. The person might be scouting the valuables in your house to come back later. Although that is rare, you don’t want to provide that opportunity, she said.

If someone comes to sell a product on your front step, don’t let them in, Kading recommends. It may be a bit uncomfortable and rude, but you need to create a safety barrier.

“If you choose to buy their product, do the transaction on the step. You also have the opportunity to say ‘I need some time to check this out, why don’t you come back in about 20 minutes?’ You can build in a cushion of time.”

The RCMP reminds residents to double-check any unsolicited service calls with the parent company before letting someone into their home.

Sales people should be able to provide a business licence.


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