You may choose to donate to charity organizations for a variety of personal reasons. Whether you make a clothes donation at the turn of every season, give monthly disabled veterans donations in memory of a loved one, or gather up your household donations to take to a church every Christmas, you are helping families in need in your own way. No matter if it’s your hard earned money, your time as a volunteer, or recycled items from your household, it would be upsetting for you to learn that the charity organizations you have been so loyal to are not as charitable as they seem. A scam in the form of a fraudulent charity is a lie that harms both the giver and the needy. If you are a charitable person, but do not know how to separate the fake charities from the honest ones, look for these warning signs.
Firstly, be cautious of an individual that comes to you and claims to represent a well known charity. If someone approaches you without you initiating it, demand identification from the individual. This is especially important if you are approached by someone on the street asking for donations from passerby. If they do not carry any form of identification that associates them with the charity organizations in question, pass on giving the individual your donation. Then, if you still want to give to that charity, find their genuine contact information through a website or brick and mortar location of the charity.
Scammers who are impersonating a known charity will also attempt to seize your emotions to get your donation. They will not take no for an answer, and will begin to guilt or pressure you into giving them your donation. Remember, no true charity representative will make you feel selfish for not donating.
Next, take extreme caution of a charity representative that asks for cash only. Many reputable charities take checks. A representative that wants the check made out to them personally rather than the organization is also a red flag. In terms of transaction, you should also always make sure that the representative is able to give you a receipt, and that it has the charity’s details printed on it.
Scam charity organizations will try to be exact replicas of well known ones to throw off your suspicion. However, there will always be some tiny differences in the faker and the real charity. If the representative that approaches you claims that the charity is under new management, has a new location, or a new website, do your research. Is the new location for mail in donations fishy? Is this “new charity name” off by even just a tiny word? Don’t let these tiny differences fool you; most reputable charities would not up and change the name or donation center that they have already established.
On a related note, be on high alert for a scam if a charity that you are familiar with changes their operations suddenly. For example, if you have been donating to a certain wounded veteran charity for years, and know that your donation is mailed monthly to New York in the form of a check, be suspicious of a person who approaches you and asks for cash for that charity. If you know that is not how that organization operates, odds are that their protocol hasn’t changed; you’ve just been targeted by a scammer.
Unfortunately, in the day and age of heavy internet use, it has become easier and easier for scammers to appear legitimate. This includes private funding pages where any individual can set up an account, designate a fundraising goal, and begin pushing their cause on multiple social media platforms. Be very careful of which private charities you choose to contribute to—these personal funding pages do not require the certifications necessary for a real, honest charity. If a stranger’s personal funding page pops up in your social media feed, be very careful before you proceed with a donation. The page could boast quite the sob story, but it could very likely be a scammer fishing for funds through the pity of strangers.
As long as you remain overly cautious and aware, your charitable actions will continue to benefit the people that truly need them.