Know the Signs of a Charity Scam

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Charity scams occur when a fraudster claims to be collecting money for a worthy cause but is pocketing the funds for themselves instead. Learn how to spot the signs of a charity scam and what to do if you’ve been targeted.

Signs of Charity Scams

While each individual scam may be slightly different, charity scams typically have several red flags in common. These include:

  • Odd ways to donate, such as wiring funds or paying via gift card
  • Marketing materials that are full of errors or typos
  • Emails and websites with only vague descriptions of the organization
  • Inability to provide proof of nonprofit designation
  • “Staff” who are unable to give straightforward answers to questions

What to Do if You’re Targeted

If you believe you’re being targeted by a charity scam, stop your communication with the organization immediately. Don’t respond to any additional solicitations. Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission to help prevent others from falling victim.

If you’ve provided sensitive information to the bogus organization, take steps to prevent future fraudulent charges or actions from occurring. Contact any financial institution where your account could be impacted. For example, call your credit card issuer if you gave out your credit card number and need to have it changed, and contact your credit union or bank if you provided your checking account information.

How to Vet an Organization

It can be unnerving to think that there are criminals who are willing to take advantage of your generosity. Don’t let that stop you from giving to causes you care about – just take precautions to ensure that your donations will do the good you intend.

  • Check the reputation of the organization using resources like Charity Navigator and Guide Star.
  • Keep the above red flags in mind and trust your gut if something seems off.
  • Only make donations using traceable methods, like a credit card.

Unfortunately, there are fraudsters who will intentionally choose a name or logo that’s very close to a legitimate organization or pose as a representative from a well-known charity to convince you to donate. If you’re not sure whether the communication you’re receiving is legitimate, contact the nonprofit directly to inquire and make sure your donation is going to the right place.

Protect Yourself from Scams

There’s no shortage of scams out there to be wary of. To keep your identity and your finances safe, it’s important to stay informed. Check out these ways we can work as a team to prevent fraud.

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