Avoiding Charity Scams
It is human nature to want to help others in times of need, tragedy, or disaster. Unfortunately, scammers see this as an opportunity to prey on unsuspecting people and trick them into giving to fake charities. In 2022 alone, consumers reported losing almost $8.8 billion to scams and fraud, which is up 30% from 2021, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
2023 has been a record-breaking year for natural disasters across the U.S. We have endured 23 separate weather and climate disasters so far this year. Each event has caused at least $1 billion in damage for a total of nearly $60 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Here are a few tips to ensure that your dollars go to legitimate charities:
- Donate to established charities you know and trust. Scammers will use a copycat name similar to a reputable organization to fool you, so make sure the name is exact.
- Don’t trust your caller ID. Scammers can use technology to make any name or number appear on your phone. They can make it look like they are calling from a local number even when they are not.
- Be wary of solicitations via email. Legitimate charities won’t include attachments in emails. Manually type out links in your Internet browser rather than clicking on them in the email. Most legitimate charities have a .org website rather than .com.
- If you are asked to give cash, gift cards, cryptocurrency, or a wire transfer, it’s a scam. Only give using a check or credit card.
Charity scams can occur at any time, but they are very prevalent after high-profile disasters. Scammers take advantage of our emotions so remember to pause and verify those to whom you are donating. The IRS has a charity lookup tool here: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search.
And finally, pass this information on to a friend. Undoubtedly many people you know receive charity solicitations. This information could help someone else spot a potential scam.