Signs Your Charity Donation is Going to a Scammer

Signs Your Charity Donation is Going to a Scammer

Chloe Seaman
November 29, 2016

The holidays aren’t just a time to exchange gifts with friends and family. You might be thinking about giving to your favorite charity too.

Before donating, be aware that scammers set up fake charities to collect donations for themselves from compassionate people like you.

This fake charity raised millions

Cancer Fund of America (second on a list of the worst charities by the Center for Investigative Reporting) operated a network of charities that scammed donors into believing their contributions were going toward care packages for cancer patients. The Cancer Fund kept millions to themselves, while giving “less than 2 cents of every dollar raised” to patients or families.

In a series of three years, the Cancer Fund raised $110 million – giving $75 million of that to solicitors. This charity scam was also a family-run operation.

Signs of a charity scam

Don’t let scammers take advantage of your generosity. Make sure you do your research before donating to any charity – and never feel pressured to give money immediately. Scam artists use pressure tactics get make you hand over money fast.

Don’t fall for this or any of the following charity scam signs.

Conning charities and fraudulent fundraisers may do any of the following:

  • Refuse to tell you the details; it’s mission, identity, cost or how your donation will be used.

  • Ask for cash donations.

  • Ask you to wire money.

  • Thank you for a donation you didn’t make.

  • Try to get you to donate immediately, without giving you time to research.

  • Use a similar name as an established charity.

  • Refuse to give you proof that a donation is tax deductible.

  • Offer to provide an overnight shipping service to collect a donation (another way they try to get you to pay immediately).

Protect yourself

Your decision to donate to a charity is generous and surely very appreciated by the recipients. You just want to make sure you know where your contribution is going.

This holiday season is prime time for charity scams. Before you think your money is going toward a noble cause, make sure it isn’t going into the hands of a real-life Grinch.

As the Internet is such a popular place, it’s also a feeding ground for scammers. Be aware of charity scams online with the following tips:

  • Be careful who you give your email: Scammers try to collect your information by getting you to give away your email address, perhaps unintentionally, online. If you do a survey on social media or sign a petition online, be aware as to what organization is behind it. There are numerous opportunities online give your email address to a scammer – who can later solicit you with fake charity emails – without realizing it.

  • Watch out for overseas requests: Any organization asking you to send money overseas is a scam.

  • Do not open email attachments: Real emails from real charity organizations will not typically include attachments. Opening an attachment from an unsolicited email may lead to a computer virus.

  • Investigate the charity’s website: There’s a lot you can determine by doing your homework. A great place to scoop out is the website of the charity you intend to give to. Legitimate charities’ web addresses typically end in .org – not .com. You can also rule out any website that asks for your personal information – this would be an example of a scam.

  • Be cautious of people claiming to be victims: If someone contacts you directly for help with something like a disaster or disease, they are likely to be scamming you. People in these situations “are in no position” to reach out to you as an individual.

  • Do not donate immediately over the phone: Do your research.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.