When you give to a charity, you’re giving because you care and want to help — and you want to be sure your money actually gets to those you’re trying to help. But scammers who pretend to be a charity try to get to your wallet.
So consider these tips before you give:
- Rule out anyone who asks you to send cash, pay with a gift card, or wire money.
- Confirm the exact name of the charity and do some research, especially when donating for the first time. Search for the name of the charity online — plus the word “complaint” or “scam.” That’s one way to learn about a charity’s reputation.
- Give to charities you know and trust, with a proven track record. Before you give to any charity, check them out with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
- Avoid charities that seem to pop up overnight in connection with a natural disaster or other tragedy.
- Don’t assume that pleas for help on crowdfunding sites or social media are legitimate. Real victims’ pictures and stories can easily be misused to con you.
- Before you text to donate, confirm the number on the charity’s website.
- Never click on links or open attachments in e-mails, even if they appear to be from a charity. You could unknowingly install malware on your computer or be taken to a look-alike website run by scammers.
— This article by Emma Fletcher of the Federal Trade Commission division of Consumer and Business Education, originally was published Thursday on the FTC Consumer Information blog.