With the holiday season fast approaching, many of us consider making donations to charitable organizations this time of year. It’s also the time when scammers work their hardest to profit from that generosity.
There have been some truly devious scams by fake cancer charities this year. For example, organizations with names that sound reputable – such as the Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society – were found to have cheated donors out of $187 million dollars before federal and local enforcement agencies moved to shut them down.
How To Detect Charity Scams
It may not always be easy to tell whether a caller asking for a donation is legitimate. The Federal Trade Commission says these warning signs should make you suspicious:
1: The “Charity” can’t provide details about how donations are used.
2: The caller can’t provide proof – like a Federal tax ID number – that it’s a qualified charity and that your donation is tax-deductible
3: The caller pushes you to donate immediately
4: You’re asked to wire a donation
5: The caller thanks you for a pledge you never made to convince you that you’ve already agreed to donate.
Your decision to make a donation is generous, but you need to be vigilant if you plan to make that donation online as well. Scammers are looking to steal not just your money, but also your personal information. Follow these steps to protect yourself and ensure that your money gets to the causes you wish to support.
Protecting Yourself From Online Scams – 6 Things To Watch Out For
1: Don’t Respond To Email Solicitations
2: Delete Unsolicited Emails with Attachments
3: Be Inspired by Social Media, But Still Do Your Homework
4: Be Leary Of People Who Contact You Online Claiming To Be A Victim
5: Search Out The Charity’s Authorized Website
6: Give Through A Reputable and Secure Service
So before you write that donation check or enter your credit card information, take a minute to check out the organizations you’re considering using these online charity watchdogs. The information provided will also make it easier to see where your dollars provide the greatest impact.
They all evaluate charities by looking at a number of factors, including how much of your donation actually reaches the causes you want to support.