Charity scams deceive people who believe they are making donations to charities when in fact the money is going to a scammer.
If you are thinking about donating to a charity, please do your research before your kind, and generous heart is taken advantage of. Unfortunately, charitable contributions sometimes do not go to the cause that you intended and believed you were donating to. Charity fraud can include fictitious charities, and tricky business acts against legitimate charities by scammers that are not affiliated with the charity at all.
When you are considering donating to a charity, most times you are thinking about giving money. Another type of donation to avoid being scammed for money is known as gifts-in-kind.
These are noncash donations from individuals and businesses to a charity. For example food, clothing, prescription drugs, and medical supplies.
These type of gifts are directly distributed to those in need, and you have a lesser risk of a charity scam since they are mainly after money.
Charity Scams: Signs to Watch out For
Authentic charities and fundraisers use the phone, face to face interaction, email, and the internet to solicit and obtain donations. Scammers use these same methods to take advantage of your goodwill.
Avoid any charity that:
- Refuses to provide detailed information about its identity mission and how donations will be used.
- Won’t provide proof that a contribution is tax deductible
- Uses a name similar to a well-known, reputable charity
- Uses pressure tactics and deadlines for your donations
- Asks for donations in cash or to wire money
- Offers to send a courier immediately to get a donation. Impressive but very easy to do and very shady.
What you need to do:
- Ask for detailed information about the charity include name address and telephone number
- Get exact name and spelling of the organization.
- Search online.
- Use Social Catfish.
Also, be sure to check with the BBB, Charity Navigator or Charity Watch. Beware that common frauds are fundraisers for vets and military families and calling on behalf of police and firefighters.
Keep a record of donations and never wire money. Do not provide credit or check card number or bank account until you have thoroughly researched and verified the charity. Victims of charity scams file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Complaints help detect patterns of wrong-doing and lead to investigations.
When donating through an online giving portal, be sure you know how your money gets to the charity your supporting and when. Portals are a quick and easy way to donate. However, your donation may not go directly to the charity as you think it is.
It may first go to an organization that accepts donations and issues tax receipts. The intermediary organization charges a service fee then sends the rest of the contribution to charity sometimes taking up to 30 days.
What to look for when paying through a portal:
- Where the money goes
- How long the transfer takes
Check where your information goes to see if the website gives your information to anyone else and to whom it is shared with. These details should be clear and easy to find when searching through the fine print.
If the portal does not readily provide the detailed information you are looking for, consider donating elsewhere. Remember you can always go directly to the website of a reputable charity to give.
While donating to a charity is a very admirable gesture, please take the time to use these tips before giving to ensure that your money goes where your heart is.
We encourage you to use Social Catfish’s reverse lookup to investigate charities and prevent being a victim of charity scams. Also, consider our In-Depth Search Specialist service where we assist you if you have been scammed from a fake charity.