By Justin Lavelle
The holiday season is a time for giving and most charities are working double time to get a piece of the donation pie. Unfortunately, the holiday season is also a prime time for scam artists to get to work and separate you from your hard earned money!
Before donating to any charity, be aware of the signs of a scam and how to protect yourself and your donation:
1. They Use Pressure Tactics To Make You Hand Over Money…Fast!
Conning charities try to get you to donate immediately, without giving you time to research them. They might also refuse to tell you the details: its mission, identity, cost, or how your donation will be used.
Protect yourself by investigating the website of the charity you intend to give to. There’s a lot you can determine by doing research. Most legitimate charities’ web addresses typically end in .org – not .com. You can also rule out any website that asks for your sensitive personal information, like a social security number, as this indicates a scam.
2. They Ask You To Wire Money
Scam artists favor money wires because once the money is sent, it is typically irretrievable and very difficult to trace.
Protect yourself by watching out for overseas requests. Any organization asking you to send money overseas is a scam.
3. They Thank You For A Donation You Didn’t Make
Received an email from a “charity” thanking you for making a donation? Watch out.
Protect yourself by not opening email attachments. Real emails from real charity organizations will not typically include attachments. Opening an attachment from an unsolicited email may lead to a computer virus or ransomware.
4. They Claim To Be A Victim
In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt warned those wishing to make a donation that many illegitimate GoFundMe accounts were trying to profit from the tragedy. This is a common tactic of scammers.
Protect yourself by staying cautious of people claiming to be victims. Reach out to the campaign organizer of a fundraiser directly. Also, do not make checks payable to individuals, nor give out credit card, bank account, or social security number information.
5. They’re On Social Media, Too
The prevalence of fake news on social media continues to pose a real threat to the public. This includes the abundance of fake charities that con artists set up on social media channels to attract compassionate donors.
Protect yourself by being selective with your social media engagement and who you provide with your email address. Scammers try to collect your information by getting you to give away your email address, perhaps unintentionally, online. If you do a survey on social media or sign a petition online, be aware as to what organization is behind it. There are numerous ways that your email address can fall into the hands of a scammer – who can later solicit you with fake charity emails – without realizing it.
Your decision to donate to a charity is generous and surely very appreciated by the recipients. Just make sure it isn’t going into the hands of a real-life Grinch.
Justin Lavelle is the Chief Communications Officer for BeenVerified, the background checking service with a mission to help people discover, understand and use public data in their everyday lives.