Richmond BBB warns of bogus charity after your identity

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Thieves may be after your identity. The Better Business Bureau believes a new bogus charity is operating in the Richmond area.

They dangle a promise of government stimulus money, if you first hand over your social security number and date of birth. In two cases, people have been reached by phone by "Helping Hands Ministry." The Better Business Bureau said hang up, it's a lie. It may sound enticing, but don't fall for it.

"This organization will help you qualify for government grants or stimulus money. That's just not true," said Tom Gallagher with the Richmond Better Business Bureau.

The BBB reached out to its Twitter followers about "Helping Hands Ministry". In just the last week, the BBB fielded three complaints.

"One was the son of an elderly person who said they were trying to get this information from his mother," said Gallagher.

In two cases, people received calls. Others reacted to a flyer posted at an apartment complex.

BBB staff called the 804-number, which connected to an answering service.

"And the only things the answering service is going to do is take your social security number and your date of birth," said Gallagher.

When asked to speak to someone in charge, the request was denied. Two days later, the number is disconnected.

"We know this is a problem. We know one of the areas off Jeff Davis Highway," said Gallagher.

I researched the number, it traces back to a land line near the Hopkins-Meadowdale area of Chesterfield.

Some people at an apartment complex off Meadowdale Boulevard tell me they saw a flyer about Helping Hands Ministry just last week but didn't think anything of it at the time.

Gallagher said if they get your social security number and date of birth, they have everything on you.

"They hurt people for a living. This is a violent crime even though there's not a gun used," said Gallagher.

Gallagher said never give out personal information and if a charity does contact you, ask them to put their request in writing, so you can do research about whether the company or charity is legit.

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