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Protect yourself from charity scams

Giving to charity is a great way to support the community. Giving to fraudsters posing as a charity is not.

How can you steer clear of fake charities and donation scams? Here are some tips and tools to determine whether a cause is legitimate and worthy of your contribution.

3 signs of fake charities and donation scams

1. Pressure to donate

It’s OK if your heartstrings are tugged, but you should never feel like your arm is being twisted. If you feel pressured, are faced with aggression, or have an emergency deadline put on your donation, it might be a scam.

A legitimate charity will willingly provide a paper trail and receipt. If you’re being told any of the following, do some more investigating:

  • The charity only accepts cash donations
  • For accounting purposes, your check needs to be made out to an individual
  • An official receipt is not available

Before making a donation, ask:

  • How funds will be distributed
  • Who benefits from your contribution
  • When funds will be allocated
  • What percentage of donations directly benefit the cause

There are so many incredible nonprofit organizations in our community, and any one of them receiving a cash donation or in-kind gift will be happy to answer your questions.

2. Abnormal behavior

If you already have a relationship with a charity and receive an email or phone call that is out of character, question its authenticity. This may be an example of spoofing, where scammers pretend to be a legitimate organization to take advantage of your personal information.

Before committing or giving any information, check the validity of the request with a call or email to someone you trust within the organization. Do not use the contact information given to you by the suspicious solicitation.

Maybe you’ve worked with a local charity in the past but unexpectedly receive a request to support a “partner organization” located overseas. This is an example of a legitimate organization’s reputation being used for a scam. Don’t be fooled.

3. Online solicitations

If you’ve received an email, instant message, or social media post from an unknown sender, this could be a phishing attempt. Don’t get hooked!

Ignore any links, including videos or unsubscribes, which could trick you into giving your valid email to their database. Instead, add the questionable address to your spam filter, so future attempts will be ignored.

Charity checklist

Considering giving to a new nonprofit? Here are some ways to make sure the charity is legitimate:

  • Ask for detailed information, such as an annual report
  • Do some research, using trusted channels to learn more about the organization’s activities and community involvement
  • Check to see if the charity or fundraiser is registered to receive tax-deductible contributions
  • Find out how long the charity has been around, being cautious about those that spring up in response to current events

Think you might be the victim of a scam?

Don’t panic. Scammers prey on hasty decisions. Don’t rush, and it will be easier to spot and avoid their traps.

That’s idea, it’s a good idea to change any passwords that may have been compromised:

  • Any account or device the scammer could access
  • Any accounts you were logged into on your device
  • Any accounts that use the same or similar login credentials

Protect your computer, click carefully, and guard personal data. Make sure your devices have recent updates installed to increase safety and security.

As with any fraud, charity scams create stress and anxiety about the safety of personal information, including financial accounts. Numerica is here for your well-being. Visit your favorite branch or call 800.433.1837.

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July 13, 2024