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News & Information

How to Avoid Charity Scams

Release Date: October 29, 2018
We are often asked to donate to charities. But when we donate are we really sure what exactly we are donating to?

How to Avoid Charity Scams

During the holiday season, it seems as though we spend more time out shopping than in our own homes. We are at grocery stores, toy stores, clothing stores and more often today, using online retailers. When we get to the check out counter, or the check out cart for online shopping, we are often asked to donate to charities. But when we donate are we really sure what exactly we are donating to?

In recent years, scams involving charities that we have grown to trust have been scattered across headlines. These charity organizations are often accused of taking the money and only giving a small percentage to the cause, or in some cases, they do not give the money to the people they claim to help at all.

When coming upon the season of giving, be sure to make educated decisions on which charities you choose to give to. If they ask for you to wire money, pay via gift card, or give money in cash, you cannot guarantee where the money is going. Instead, when choosing to donate pay via a check or credit card so that it shows on the statement who the payment was made to. Be sure to record all donations made so that you can be aware if you are charged more than you agreed to, or if you have been signed up for a reoccurring donation.

Scammers can call over the phone and disguise the number so that it appears local on your caller ID. When talking they will often use names of real charities or names that sound like they could be charities. The scam artist might not have answers to questions on exactly how the money might be used when donated. Scammers often try to rush victims and make them feel uncomfortable so that they agree to the scam. If you feel uncomfortable with the person on the line but still want to donate to the charity, do your own research first and find if it is reputable.

If you want to know whether or not a charity is reputable, you can always check with the Better Business Bureau at (https://www.bbb.org/en/us external link). Or go on https://charitynavigator.org external link. Charity Navigator will give the finances of the company, like how they spend their money. They will give you the accountability and transparency, and charities which are similar to it. Charity Navigator gives the charity an overall rating out of four stars based on these factors. If you feel uneasy about donating over the phone, you can donate to the organization that you wish through Charity Navigator.

Making donations to charities can be a great thing but just make sure that the charity is reputable.

Source: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-donate-wisely-and-avoid-charity-scams external link

The information is provided courtesy of the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office.