Don’t Give to a Charity Imposter this Holiday Season

When you give to a charity, you’re giving because you care and want to help — and you want to be sure your money actually gets to those you’re trying to help. But scammers who are pretending to be a charity, will try to get to your wallet.

Typically people feel as though the holiday season is one of the most important times of the year to donate to a charity – which is a great thing, just be sure you are doing your research and know where your money is going first!

Consider these tips before you give:

  • Rule out anyone who asks you to send cash, pay with a gift card, or wire money.
  • Confirm the exact name of the charity and do some research, especially when donating for the first time. Search for the name of the charity online — plus the word “complaint” or “scam.” That’s one way to learn about a charity’s reputation.
  • Give to charities you know and trust, with a proven track record. Before you give to any charity, check them out with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
  • Avoid charities that seem to pop up overnight in connection with a natural disaster or other tragedy.
  • Don’t assume that pleas for help on crowdfunding sites or social media are legitimate. Real victims’ pictures and stories can easily be misused to con you.
  • Before you text to donate, confirm the number on the charity’s website.
  • Be cautious of clicking on links or opening attachments in emails, even if they appear to be from a charity. You could unknowingly install malware on your computer or be taken to a look-alike website run by scammers.

For more information, visit ftc.gov/charity. If you think you’ve spotted a charity scam, report it at ftc.gov/complaint.

Article Source: Emma Fletcher, FTC.gov

 

4 Signs That a Charity is Probably a Scam

Many of us donate to a worthy cause year round. Unfortunately, just as there are good people trying to help others, there are also plenty of scammers out there. You want to feel good about where your money is going, and you want to make sure that you aren’t just lining the pockets of some fraudster. As you field phone calls and receive information from those purporting to help the less fortunate, watch out for the following red flags that might indicate you are dealing with a scam:

1. High-Pressure Phone Tactics

Someone insisting that you give money now, over the phone, is a huge red flag that you are probably dealing with a scam. Most legitimate charities don’t employ high-pressure sales tactics that make you feel like you need to donate immediately.

In some cases, scammers insist that you have to just donate, and they tell you time is too short to send you literature or let you look at a website. If a caller gets frustrated and tries to tell you that you need to donate immediately, hang up the phone.

Legit charities usually have no problem with you saying no. The caller might tell you they are under a deadline for a match, but they won’t pressure you, and once you say you need time to think about it, most legit charities will thank you and move on.

2. No Website

Who doesn’t have a website these days? Scammers, that’s who. If you get a phone call from an organization, and you can’t find a website, that’s a red flag. Most legit charities have websites that describe their mission, who they help, and even include success stories. Even local charities usually have a basic website that allows you to see where they are located and what their needs are.

If an organization doesn’t have a website, that’s an immediate red flag. That’s not to say that every worthy cause would have a website, but it simply means you need to investigate further. Legit charities want people to know they are out there and accept donations.

3. They Won’t Provide You with Their Tax ID

Charities have to apply to be tax-exempt organizations and you can call IRS to verify their legitimacy. If someone over the phone just cannot provide their Tax ID or there’s no way to find that out before you send money, then this is a major red flag. And it’s not totally safe just because they gave you a bunch of numbers either. Call 877-829-5500 to see if the charity is claiming to be who they are. This is also the definitive source for making sure your donation is tax deductible.

4. No One Wants to See You

Watch out if a caller doesn’t want to let you know where they are located. Ask to stop by if they claim to be local. Or, you can ask for a mailing address to send a donation. Legitimate charities are happy to let you have a tour or send them a donation through the mail.

Scammers, though, don’t usually have a mailing address. And they certainly don’t want you anywhere near their base of operations. When an organization comes up with an excuse as to why you can’t visit or send a donation to an address, you should watch out. There’s a good chance you’re dealing with a scammer.

If you are still unsure, you can check Charity Navigator or GuideStar for information about charities and how effective they are, including how much of their resources go toward actually helping others.

There are many worthy causes that deserve your dollar’s attention, but you need to pay attention in order for the real charities to benefit the world. Do your part by taking time to vet out the details and you won’t be sorry to hear that your donations only enriched someone without really helping those in need.

Article Source: Miranda Marquit for MoneyNing.com