Letter to the editor: Don't let scammers take advantage of your support for Montana's volunteer firefighters
December 26, 2019
Here in Montana, we understand the dangers of wildfires and structure fires, especially in rural areas. We appreciate the men and women who lay their lives on the line to protect us, and we know that the majority of them are volunteers.
So when the phone rings and the caller asks for assistance for Montana’s firefighters, our first instinct is to say yes.
Unfortunately, that is just what the scammers are counting on. The Montana State Fire Chiefs’ Association is so grateful for Montanans’ backing but wants to make sure your dollars are going to the local volunteers you want to support, not a fly-by-night organization working a scam.
Here are a few ways you can recognize a scam fundraising call:
• The caller is vague, perhaps saying something about “it supports firefighters in Montana,” and never mentions a specific organization.
• The address given to mail checks or money is out of state.
• They might offer to mail a letter but still want your donation today.
In fact, no one from our organization will ever call to ask for donations, so the phone call itself should be a warning sign that things are not on the up and up. If you have any questions about donations for Montana firefighters, you can always call your local fire department or the MSFCA to verify.
If you would like to support Montana’s volunteer firefighters, the MSFCA has an authorized way to do that through donations to its endowment fund. The fund is professionally managed by the Montana Community Foundation for the benefit of Montana firefighters, with all donations going toward education, training, support of firefighting efforts and relief from fire-related circumstances. Your donation may also qualify for the Montana Endowment Tax Credit, which could provide a tax benefit in addition to the emotional benefit you will receive from supporting your community. You can learn more at http://www.montanafirechiefs.com .
This giving season, don’t get fooled by scammers. Instead, make your gifts count by ensuring they are going to the people and organizations that truly matter to you, to your community and to Montana.
Chief Rich Cowger of Columbus Fire/Rescue is president of the Montana State Fire Chiefs’ Association