Many people share holiday spirit through gift giving and making charitable donations. Unfortunately, scammers are trying to take advantage of those giving back by creating fake causes and charities. When you contribute, be confident you know where your money is going. Here are a few ways to spot fake charities asking for a donation.
● Pleas for help on social media platforms such as Facebook and GoFundMe. Scammers trick people into monetary donations through real stories of tragedy, even using photos of the victim(s) to look convincing.
● Donations through text message. It may be fast and easy, however, ensure the phone number contacting you for a donation matches the number listed on the charity’s website. CharityWatch allows you to search for any verified charity for free.
● Pressure to donate immediately. Scammers may create a false sense of urgency with the hope you make an emotional decision to donate without thinking it through.
● A caller refers to your ‘previous donation.’ A commonly used tactic, scammers may try to deceive you into thinking you already have a relationship with the charity.
● Sound-alike charities and web addresses. Scammers may change a few letters to a full word of a well-known charity and its web address. Charity Navigator provides authentic names of real charities and their web addresses.
● Avoid donating with gift cards or wire transfers. These payment methods require sending codes that are generally untraceable.
Do your research before donating
It’s a natural inclination to answer a phone call and want to help right away. Before you do, take the time to verify the organization on give.org along with any other charities you want to support. In addition to your research, it’s a good idea to:
● Donate by credit card or check.
● Keep a record of all your donations.
● Review your bank statements to confirm recurring donations are not being charged.
● Know who you’re giving to when you donate online to avoid go-between organizations or additional fees.
If you cannot find the charity you’re looking for, consider searching its name online followed by “scam” or “fraud.” With scammers continuing to find new ways to steal your money, it’s wise to be careful about where your money is going. If you have any questions regarding a donation or believe you are a victim of a charity scam, call our Contact Center (513-333-3800) or your nearest branch location.