Charity or a scam attempt? A fund-raising permit ensures that your money goes to charity

You may be approached by phone on a charity-related matter and asked to support a good cause. However, there is no guarantee that such a call comes from a charity organisation, says the Consumer Ombudsman. The uncertainty created by the corona pandemic creates a good opportunity for fraudulent fund-raising.

A call disguised as a charity call may not be from an actual charity organisation but from a profit-seeking company, for example. If this is the case, the money that you donate may not go for the purpose mentioned in the call.

It may also happen that only a fraction of the money that you donated over the phone goes to charity. It is misleading and contrary to the Consumer Protection Act to claim or imply that a matter involves charity if it does not.

Did you become a standing order subscriber without understanding that you became one? Do not pay unclear invoices

At worst, you may bind yourself to make regular monthly payments without your money going to charity. In return for your payments, you get, for example, a magazine, to which you did not even realise that you subscribed on the basis of the phone conversation.

It is essential for the consumer to know whether their payment is used for charity or for business, and the commercial purpose of the call must be clearly stated. Many people have thought that they give money to a good cause such as anti-bullying or mental health work but have subscribed to a magazine without realising that they did so.

If you have not ordered a product, but you have become unknowingly a standing order subscriber under the guise of fund-raising, you have no obligation to pay for the product. You should contact the sender of the invoice and request that the invoice and the alleged order be cancelled. The Consumer Advice Services will serve you in possible disputes.

Exceptional circumstances create opportunities for scams – beware of corona scammers

Exceptional circumstances often create a good opportunity to develop credible scam attempts when people’s worries may be fraudulently exploited. At the moment, attempts to raise money under the guise of fear and uncertainty associated with the corona virus may be made.

The situation appears calm so far, but you should be careful if you receive corona virus-related fund-raising calls. The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority closely follows the development of the situation. The National Police Board of Finland has also warned of scammers raising money under the guise of the corona pandemic. Reports submitted by consumers reports are valuable, as the sooner public authorities become aware of corona-related scams, the better opportunities they have able to tackle them.

A precondition for fund-raising is that the fund-raiser has applied for a fund-raising permit from the Police Board of Finland or submitted a notification to the police department about the organization of a small-scale fund-raising campaign. Legal fund-raising can be identified by a permit or a small-scale fundraiser number.

According to the guidelines issued by the National Police Board of Finland, you should always check if the party asking for a donation has a fund-raising permit. In this way you can make sure that the money actually goes for the purpose that the fund-raised states in the call.

By asking the following questions you can verify if a fund-raising permit is legal:

  1. What is the name and permit number of the fund-raiser?
  2. When and where can the fund-raising campaign be carried out?
  3. What is the licensing authority?
  4. What is the purpose of the money raised?

Do not give money if you have the slightest doubt about the appropriateness of the fund-raising campaign.

Further information on the subject: