Tis' the Season for Charity Fraud
Giving to a charity is a wonderful thing any time of the year, especially during the holidays. But as the holiday season approaches, and people increase their giving, scammers find more ways to take advantage of others’ goodwill.
That’s why it’s so important to stay alert and do your research before making any donations. To help you protect yourself and your hard-earned money from charity scams, follow these quick tips.
- Never give out your personal banking information online or agree to wire money.
- Don’t sign-up with charities soliciting on the street. Scammers will often target holiday shoppers and attempt to get them to sign-up for fraudulent charities because they’re often too distracted to ask questions.
- When a charity asks for a donation, type their name into a search engine before agreeing to donate. If the search engine redirects to another site or page, it’s a sure sign the charity is attempting to masquerade as a better-known charity.
- Visit Charity Watch, Consumer Reports, or the Better Business Bureau to confirm the legitimacy of a charity’s reputation.
- Ask questions if you’re unsure about how funds are being used. Real charities will be upfront with you because they have nothing to hide. On the other hand, scammers will avoid questions or fail to provide detailed information.
- Verify that the organization is registered in their jurisdiction. 40 states, and the District of Colombia, require state and federal registration for all charities.
- Stay away from charities that advertise sweepstakes. Reputable charities don’t conduct sweepstakes to get donations.
- Donate your time instead of money. Aside from helping to ensure your money isn’t stolen, volunteering can help you build stronger ties to the community.
If you happen to spot a charity scam, or if you fall victim to one, make sure you report it at FTC.gov/Complaint.