Common Charitable Giving Scams

Jar with money in it sitting behind square wooden blocks that spell out the word "DONATE".

Charitable giving is a noble act that supports causes and organizations working for the betterment of society. However, amid the generosity lies a dark side – charitable giving scams. These scams prey on the goodwill of individuals, diverting funds away from legitimate causes and into the hands of fraudsters. In this article, we’ll explore some common charitable giving scams and provide tips on how to avoid falling victim to them. But first, common amongst them all are these high-pressure tactics:

  • Urgent appeals for donations
  • Promises of extravagant rewards
  • Pressuring donors to provide credit card info or make immediate donations, leaving no time for donors to verify whether the charity actually exists.
  • Using compelling stories and emotional appeals
  • Fake social media profiles and fake crowdfunding platforms (such as FaceBook, Instagram, or GoFundMe) to solicit donations for fake causes or people in need
  • Approaching someone who has already donated to a specific charity, posing as a representative of said charity and requesting additional donations or personal information, claiming the personal info is needed for tax purposes or in order to process the donation.
  • Using names that closely resemble well-known charities to deceive donors

Common charitable giving scams use the tactics above in conjunction with these scams:

  1. Fake Charities: One of the most prevalent scams is the creation of fake charities that mimic legitimate organizations.
  2. Telephone and Email Solicitations: Scammers often use telemarketing calls and unsolicited emails to solicit donations for fake charities.
  3. Social Media Scams: With the rise of social media, scammers have found new avenues to exploit charitable giving.
  4. Donation Fraud: In some cases, scammers target individuals who have already made legitimate donations to charities.
  5. How to Avoid Charitable Giving Scams:

Now that we’ve identified common charitable giving scams, here are some tips to help you avoid falling victim to them:

Be cautious of any unsolicited requests for additional contributions or sensitive information.

Research the charity. Before making a donation, take the time to research the charity to ensure it’s legitimate. Use resources like the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search to verify the organization’s tax-exempt status and learn more about its mission and activities.

Be Skeptical of High-Pressure Tactics. Legitimate charities will not use aggressive or high-pressure tactics to solicit donations. Be wary of solicitors who demand immediate donations or refuse to provide detailed information about the charity’s programs and finances.

Protect Your Personal Information. Avoid providing personal or financial information to unsolicited callers, emails, or social media messages. Legitimate charities will not ask for sensitive information, such as your Social Security number or credit card details, over the phone or email.

Donate Directly. Whenever possible, follow donation instructions on the charity’s official website, or send donations to the charity’s mailing address displayed on their website. (Be wary of any charities that don’t post their mailing address on their website.) Avoid clicking on links or responding to unsolicited requests for donations on social media or crowdfunding platforms.

Trust Your Instincts. If something feels off or too good to be true, trust your instincts and proceed with caution. Don’t let emotional appeals cloud your judgment, and always verify the legitimacy of the charity before making a donation.

By following these tips and staying vigilant, you can protect yourself from falling victim to charitable giving scams and ensure that your donations make a meaningful impact on legitimate causes and organizations. Remember, a little due diligence goes a long way in safeguarding your generosity and making a positive difference in the world.

author avatar
Gwen Harrison President

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