Donating to charity has always been a great way to support groups near and dear to your heart. Unfortunately, not all charities are the real deal. Fraudulent charities are a popular way for scammers to get their hands on donors’ well-intentioned money. We think your donations should count. BBB recommends you do your research to make sure your charitable contributions are going to competent, legitimate charities, not scammers’ pockets.
Scammers frequently go door-to-door, cold call, e-mail and even use social media to try to trick unsuspecting good samaritans. They will aggressively ask for donations and use a name that may sound legitimate. They talk vaguely about their cause, not specifying what they’re actually going to do with the money. Don’t donate until you know your donation will make a difference.
BBB offers some tips to ensure your donations go to reputable charities:
• Know who you’re giving to. Do not donate to a charity without researching it first. Ask for the name, address, telephone number and printed materials (brochures, annual reports, etc).
• Avoid donating in cash, by gift card or by wire transfer. Donate by credit card or check when you have settled on a charity.
• Make sure you know how your donation will be used. If a charity doesn’t specify how they will use your donation, it may have less than good intentions.
• Understand when your donation is tax-deductible and when it isn’t.
• Remember, scammers can change caller ID to make a call look like it’s from a local area code.
• Be wary of unsolicited e-mails containing links to charities. Scammers may use this tactic to access your personal information or download malware onto your computer.
• Never give out personal information, including credit card, bank account or social security number to unfamiliar organizations.
• Keep records of your donations with receipts, canceled checks and bank statements to document your charitable giving at tax time.
• Use caution giving through crowdfunding. Some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals posting for assistance.
• Watch out for scammers that mimic the names of well-known, respected charities hoping to fool you into donating.
• Don’t be rushed into making a donation.
BBB wants you to give back and give smart. Check to ensure the charity you are considering is trustworthy by turning to the BBB for a list of charities that comply with BBB’s Standards for Charity Accountability and reports on charities you’re considering donating to. Visit www.bbb.org or call 937-222-5825 or 800-776-5301. You can also check charities out at www.give.org, www.guidestar.org and www.charitynavigator.org.
The writer is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and Miami Valley.