Spotting A Charity Scam A Mile Away
Being the kind of person that scams hard earned money from trusting people is bad enough, but being the kind of person that profits off the misfortune of others takes a special kind of evil. As hard as it is to believe, there are people and companies out there that try to pose as charities to profit off of would be donors. A bad side effect of this is that it makes people suspicious of legitimate charities that are doing a great deal of good. Like with other scammers, there are ways of spotting a crook posing as a charity at the most crucial time, before they get your money. People running these types of scams especially seem to come out right after a natural disaster, trying to capitalize on people’s urges to do good and help out. strictiond
The first thing is to do some basic research on who has contacted you. Ask them questions, the information relating to who they are should be readily available to them. Do a search of the charity name they give you on the internet, add the word “scam” or “fraud” to the search bar, and see if a list of complaints filed against this supposed charity comes up. You can even contact the consumer protection agency in your state or area who should have information on most charities. When dealing with anyone online, either a charity or a seller, make sure you get a physical address and a phone number from them. This is another possible piece of information you can research, find a reverse phone number lookup site and see who comes up as the owner of that phone number. Also, do a search on the address and see if anything negative comes up there as well.
Look out for charities with names that sound very similar to well known charities. Most charities, like most businesses, want to distinguish themselves from other charities, not be confused with other charities. Many times a fraudulent charity will name themselves something that sounds similar to The Red Cross, The United Way, or another widely recognized charity and hope to confuse people who are actually trying to donate to the legitimate charity.
Legitimate charities do not try to use high pressure tactics to get you to donate to them. If the person communicating with you is using lots of hype and not taking no for an answer, then this is a sign that the charity may not be real.
Much like any business dealing, be very caution about unsolicited emails. Most legitimate charities do not contact possible donors via spam messages. Spam is usually an attempt to either advertise something you don’t need or to get you to give up sensitive personal data. If you do not know who the message is from it is best to just delete it.
If you are inquisitive and want to know how donations are going to be used, or who donations are going to directly benefit, then ask these questions. Legitimate charities should be willing and able to answer all your questions accurately. It is also a good idea to research charities as you most likely want to donate to charities that have the bulk of your donation going to those in need and not to salaries and administrative expenses of the charity itself.
For the most part, unless using a bank transfer, no charity will need personal information like your Social Security or bank account numbers for your donation to be processed. Charities that insist they need this information for their records may not be legitimate and may be looking to acquire your personal information so they can use it to empty your bank account.
Most legitimate charities do not run sweepstakes and lottery type contests. Some imposter charities try to get more people to donate to them by telling them they offer a sweepstakes or lottery where your donation may come back to win you a large sum of money. This is a sure sign that you are dealing with scam artists and not real charities doing good work.
When you have to knowledge of what to look for and what to ask, the chance of a fraudulent charity succeeding in its attempt to steal your well meaning donation becomes less likely. Be aware that legitimate charities act in a professional manner and have strict rules. Legitimate charities are very forthcoming about what the donation is used for and their own background and information as well. If the charity you are dealing with is being secretive, then it is time to look for a different place to make a donation.