When we see someone in need, it pulls at our heartstrings and we want to do anything we can to help them. That’s why charity scams are so devastatingly effective. You want to do something good for the world, but some greedy person is taking advantage of both you and the cause.
These scams are sinister traps, but don’t worry, we’ll show you how you to avoid them and make sure your money only goes towards worthy causes.
What Are Charity Scams?
Charity scams involve the fraudulent use of charities to take either money or information from victims. Con artists often use emotional appeals because they break down our guards and can get us to hand over money when we otherwise wouldn’t have.
These scams can happen in person, over the phone, through email, text message or social media. They go beyond trying to get money out of people – some fraudsters use charities as a pretext so that they can get the details they need to commit identity theft.
There are a range of different types of charity fraud, including inflated or continuous payments, crowd-funding lies, phishing, tax shelter scams and guilt tripping. If you want to learn about these scams in more detail, have a look at this rundown.
Check out the following tips if you want to avoid charity fraud and make sure your money goes to those in need.
Donate Actively, Not Passively or Reactively
One of the most common ways for people to donate is when they are prompted in person, over the phone, via email or through other channels. This is a reactive form of donation, and it can lead to problems.
If you are walking down the street and a charity worker waves a tin at you, asking for money, you might hand some over without thinking about it. Likewise, when you get called by a charity, you may be pressured into giving money before you can give it some proper thought.
This is dangerous, because in both of these situations, you don’t have time to evaluate whether or not the charity is legitimate. It could actually be a fraudster using manipulative tactics to solicit donations you otherwise wouldn’t give.
If you really want to make a positive change in the world and avoid falling for scams, the only way you can be certain is to take your time and do some research. Acting impulsively can easily lead to getting scammed and legitimate charities missing out on the money.
On top of this, you will also find that some of the most well-known charities are far less effective than they make themselves out to be. To avoid scams and make sure your donation has the most beneficial impact, have a look at one of these charity review sites and find an organization that you like:
Once you find one that you approve of, you can start sending it money. In the future, whenever anyone solicits donations from you, politely say, “No thank you, I already have charities that I support.” If you want, you can set aside whatever money you may have given to the tin-rattler, and give it to a charity you know is trustworthy.
Extra Tips for Donating Safely
The above advice should point you in the right direction, but there are some other tips that can also prevent you from falling for scams:
- Pay with secure methods – use PayPal, a secure credit card platform, or checks. Never give out your bank details or send cash. You should also ask for a receipt for your records and tax purposes.
- Avoid suspicious links in emails – make sure that any links you click on are the legitimate charity URLs and that their names are spelled correctly.
If you notice a scam, report it to protect others and to help punish the perpetrators. If we shut down these fraudulent organizations, we can make sure that more money is heading to those who really need it. Report scams to the following agencies:
- US: Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Complaint Assistant
- UK: Action Fraud
- Canada: Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
- Australia: Scamwatch
If you are a victim of charity fraud, report it to your local police as well.