Wednesday, 6 December 2023

5 Signs of a Charity Scam That Should Send You Running for the Hills

by Earn Media

5 Signs of a Charity Scam That Should Send You Running for the Hills

Image source: Getty Images

People are already in the giving spirit, so it makes sense that the end of the year is also one of the most popular times to donate to charities. And with so many causes vying for your attention, it’s not too difficult for a scammer to sneak in unnoticed. But you don’t have to fall for their tricks. If you see any of the following five signs, you’ll know to take your cash and run.

1. High-pressure sales tactics

Legitimate charities shouldn’t pressure you to donate, but scammers often do exactly that. They might talk up the importance of their mission or try to make you feel bad for not handing over your hard-earned cash right away, but don’t fall for it. It’s your money, and you can take all the time you need to make sure you’re comfortable with your decision.

2. Scant details on what the charity does

A real charity should be able to explain not just its overarching goal, but the steps staff take to meet that goal. The charity should also be able to give you some idea of what your donation is going to be used for. If the person you’re speaking to tries to beat around the bush or makes you feel as though you wouldn’t understand, that’s a pretty sure sign of a scam.

3. Requests for specific or unusual payment methods

The safest way to donate money to a charity is via check or credit card. If an alleged charity requires that you make your donation in cash or via wire transfer, gift card, or cryptocurrency, it’s a scam. These payment methods are more difficult to trace, which is why scammers favor them.

4. Names that don’t quite match legitimate charities

Scammers sometimes try to take advantage of the credibility of large, legitimate charities by either pretending they’re from that organization or tweaking the name slightly. If you’re unsure whether you’re dealing with a legitimate charity or not, it’s always best to avoid giving on the spot and instead look up how to donate to that charity online.

5. Unsolicited emails or phone calls

Charities generally won’t cold call you to seek donations. They might reach out if you’ve subscribed to a mailing list or expressed a prior interest in their cause. But if someone is just contacting you out of the blue, it’s unlikely to be legitimate.

What to do if you come across a charity scam

If you run into a charity scam, the most important thing is to avoid giving out any money or bank account information. You don’t want a scammer to gain access to your funds or steal your identity.

Notify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if you suspect a scam. Contact your state charity regulator as well. Provide as much information as you can about who you spoke to, the fake charity’s name and contact information, and anything else they told you. You may also want to alert friends and family via social media if the scammer appears to be operating locally.

How to find a legitimate charity to donate to

It’s not hard to find a legitimate charity to donate to. You can use one of the following tools to verify that the charity is real:

All you need to do is enter the name of the charity and look up its reviews. If you don’t see the charity there or there’s a lot of negative information about it, it’s probably not the right organization for you to give to. In addition, you can use these sites to browse for charities that match causes you’re interested in.

Fortunately, most people don’t run across charity scams too often, so you shouldn’t let it scare you away from donating. There are plenty of great organizations out there that could use your help this holiday season, and giving could earn you a nice tax break in the process.

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