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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > July 2015 > Charity Race Runners and Walkers: Do Your Research!

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Charity Race Runners and Walkers: Do Your Research!

Participating in 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and marathon races is often a great way to raise money for charities you’re passionate about, while also accomplishing fitness goals. However, some scammers use the popularity of these events to trick consumers – and charities – out of money.
How the Scam Works:
Fraudsters create legitimate-looking websites and advertise upcoming races to raise money for “charities.” Many of the websites even suggest affiliation with local, legitimate charities by including the charities’ logos under the sponsorship information. Additionally, the websites often contain pictures of runners and course maps, which likely have been taken without permission from other race websites.
Consumers are directed to a payment page, where they are prompted to submit credit card information for pre-registration fees. Because scammers usually advertise a significantly lower pre-registration fee compared to the race-day fee, many consumers choose to pre-register. However, once the race day approaches, runners learn that the race was never organized and no refunds will be provided.
Tips for Consumers:
  • Prior to registering, contact the venue and confirm the race is scheduled.
  • Pay with a credit card, instead of a debit card. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, consumers can dispute fraudulent credit card charges within 60 days.
  • Be sure to review the race’s terms and conditions. Will refunds be provided if the race is canceled due to weather conditions, etc.?
  • If the race website suggests affiliation with a charity, contact the charity to confirm its involvement with the race. Also, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to research the charity.
  • Conduct an online search by typing the race name and “scam” or “canceled” into a search engine.
  • Evaluate the legitimacy of the race website. In addition to registration fee information, most legitimate race websites also provide a course map, parking information, check-in time and event schedules, team names, information about the cause, and photos from past events.
Consumers who believe they have encountered a scam or unfair business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or