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Charity Scams: What You Need to Know

  • 23 June 2015
  • Author: Cari Holbrook
  • Number of views: 3848
Charity Scams:  What You Need to Know

Some charities sound like great causes but turn out to be scams. While it’s important to help others (and it can even be helpful to you, come tax season) charity scams can turn a moment of giving into a moment you wish you could get back.

Natural disasters like the recent Texas floods can conjure a barrage of charity scams, so now is a good time to brush up on your charity savvy. Here are two important ways to protect yourself while giving:

Do your research

Before you open that email, click that “donate” button, or hand over cash to the door-to-door solicitor, check out the charity online. There are several ways to do this. Some of our favorite sites are:

·         Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information Site: This site not only provides scam alerts (including a popular one on how to help the earthquake victims in Nepal), but it also gives great educational information. For instance, take a look at their blog post on how sham charities inflate gift-in-kind numbers to deceive donors.

·         National Consumer League’s Fraud website: Visit this site for a great checklist that can help you ensure the charities you give to aren’t scams. The list may give you ideas on what to ask before giving, such as: Can I get written information about your charity before I give? What is your relationship to the charity (or, more directly, are you a professional fundraiser)?

·         Better Business Bureau Education Foundation’s Scam Tracker: This site includes a map of all scams reported in your selected area, with descriptions of those scams (including IRS, sweepstakes and other scams as well).

Stick with charities you know are doing good

In the case of natural disasters, it’s tempting to give to organizations that seem to be right in the middle of the action, even if you’ve never heard of the organization before. Some less-than-legitimate charities even have strikingly familiar names like Cancer Fund of America and the Kids Wish Network. Instead, find and stay loyal to established charities like the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, or another organization affiliated with a community, professional or religious group you trust.

To help you find charities you can patronize long term, use either the BBB or a site like Charity Navigator, which scores organizations both big and small based on factors including 501(c)3 status and how much money from donations is used for administrative expenses.

For some great local giving options, read our Giving Report: Top San Antonio Charities and for specific ideas on how to take tax advantage with your charitable giving, contact us.

Image Copyright: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo

Categories: Blog, General
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