Don’t Fall Victim to Charity Scams by Following These 5 Tips

Feb 5, 2024Individual Tax0 comments

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Don’t Fall Victim to Charity Scams by Following These 5 Tips

Whether you are an avid philanthropist, or just make a casual donation here and there- you could still fall victim to charity scams. This is when a group or an individual poses themselves as legitimate charity, then seeks to collect donations for themselves. Better to be safe now, than sorry later when tax season comes around and the charity doesn’t check out. Tune into these 5 tips to learn how you can protect yourself from these fraudulent solicitors.

1. Verify the legitimacy

Type the charity’s name into a search engine, what do you see? Or what don’t you see? If there is no website, or any other sort of digital footprint, it is better to steer clear of this charity. It’s always a good idea to be wary, some scammers are able to curate a very realistic looking online presence. There are also websites like Charity Navigator, that you can use to learn more about the charity.

2. Check for their tax-exempt status

Even if their website seems legitimate, check their eligibility to recieve tax-deductible charitable contributions. All charities will have readily available tax-exempt information that you should be able to find through the Tax-Exempt Organization Search (TEOS).

3. Don’t give into pressure

While even genuine charities are desperate for donations, there is a difference between them and pushy scam artists. They may pressure you to donate immediately or refuse to give you information about how your donation will be used.

4. Avoid giving out personal information

Many scammers will pose as a charity you’ve heard of or may have even donated to before asking you to “verify” your information. This could include your SSN, birthday, current address, email, or answers to common security questions. Keep in mind, scammers can get a lot of your information off the internet, so it’s best to not confirm anything. Giving out any of this information could open the door to future scams. Keep in mind caller ID can even be spoofed to look legitimate. Never donate without researching the organization first.

5. Be mindful of other signs of fraud

An obvious way to point out fraudulent solicitors is by the method of payment they are requesting. If you are asked to pay with gift cards, wire transfer, or cash, RUN! Or rather, just hang up the phone.

If you suspect that a charity is fake or seems suspicious in any way, protect others by reporting it to the FBI’s Charity and Disaster Fraud resources.


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