Police and firefighters have a purpose to protect you, your family and your community. You may feel inclined to support these workers in any way you can, but do not be so quick to trust a call from a charity asking for donations to fire and police funds.

TNS has found fake fundraising for police and firefighters as a top scam operating today. These fraudsters may pose as a legitimate charity, make up a fake organization name that sounds trustworthy or even create a registered charity but misuse funding. Having the word “police” or “firefighters” in a charity’s name does not unfortunately confirm any of the money raised is benefiting these groups or that police and firefighters are even a part of them, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Donations are a great way to support causes you hold close to your heart, but scammers are notoriously good at tricking those who are passionate about an issue and want to help through funding, so it is important to be very cautious when making donations. Some legitimate non-profit organizations have confirmed they do not solicit donations over the phone. For example, the National Police Foundation does not solicit donations from anyone via phone, according to their website. There is no safe way to confirm the identity of the caller, so never give your credit card, address or other personal information over the phone.

The best approach is to make sure the organization you want to support does not have ill intentions through research. Visiting the IRS website can confirm if the company is a legitimate, tax exempt charity. The website Charity Navigator is a great tool to use when checking the usage of funds for all legitimate charities. These websites give charities a rating based on how they are using donations and break down where the money is really going. You can also directly call your police or fire station and confirm if the organization calling is really working with them.

In addition, consumers can protect themselves by leveraging robocall detection solutions powered by TNS Call Guardian. In these trying times, vigilance is even more important than before; be smart and stay safe.

Jim Tyrrell is Senior Director of Product Marketing at TNS with specific responsibility for TNS’ Communications Market solutions.