In my humble opinion…
Individuals who scam charities are the lowest sort of sewer-sucking scum. Still, scammers abound so it becomes essential for the generous to be skeptical.
BEWARE OF ORGANIZATIONS THAT:
· Uses a name that closely resembles that of a better-known, reputable organization. These are often scams.
· Thanks you for a pledge you didn’t make.
· Spring up in response to disasters. Definitely donate to flood and fire victims, but often it’s better to route your funds through an organization trained to deal with these disasters—like the Red Cross.
· Use high-pressure tactics to get you to donate immediately, without giving you time to think and research.
· Asks you to wire money.
· Offers to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect the donation immediately.
If you’re not familiar with a charity, how can you make sure the organization is legitimate?
· Get the exact name of the charity and Google. One of the quickest ways to find the “less than honorable” is to do a little online research. Enter the name of the charity and add the word “complaint” or “scam.”
· Even if you’re familiar with a charity, the person on the phone may not “actually” represent that fundraiser. Call the charity. Is the organization aware of the donation campaign? Many scammers pretend to be legitimate fundraisers but direct your to send your money where it can be siphoned off by the not-so-charitable.
· Donate via check. Never use cash. Not only will you have no official record of your donation, cash can be stolen.
· See if the charity is registered by the state. Note: not all states require registration. Find out a charity must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials.
· Ask how your donation will be used. Legitimate charities will be happy to provide that information.
· Ask for proof that you contribution is tax deductible.
· Verify the charity with the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
· You can find out which organizations are eligible to receive tax deductible contributions on the IRS website.
· If you get a call from an organization that claims to represent firefighters or police, call your local station(s) and ask if they’ve heard of the charity.
Above all, don’t let my warnings stop you from giving, and giving generously. There are many people doing many good things. Just make sure those are the ones who get your hard-earned moola.