Let’s face it, it’s been a rough few years following the emergence of COVID-19. Charities have not been spared when it comes to the negative impacts that have been felt in nearly every sector throughout the world. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much of a reduction in the number of attempted charity scams. In this article, we cover what a charity scan is, how to protect yourself from them, and what to do when you want to report a charity scam.
What Are Charity Scams?
A charity scam, or charity fraud, is an attempt to collect money or personal information from individuals by posing as a legitimate charity. These scams can take many forms, but often involve contact through email, phone, or social media. The scammer will typically make some sort of appeal for help, before requesting either money or personal information such as credit card numbers.
These scams can really happen at any time but are at their most prevalent directly after there has been some form of major disaster. That could be a hurricane, flooding, or even a worldwide pandemic as was the case with COVID-19.
How Do I Know If A Charity Is Legitimate?
There are a few things you can do to determine if a charity is legitimate. First, always check the charity’s website to see if it really exists. Then, we recommend checking with organizations such as GuideStar, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, CharityWatch or you can check with Charity Navigator to see if they are legitimate.
How Can You Protect Yourself From A Charity Scam?
There are a few ways to protect yourself from a charity scam. Here are a few of them:
- First and foremost, never give out your personal information to someone you don’t know. This includes your social security number, credit card number, or bank account information.
- Always be skeptical of charities that contact you out of the blue. If you’re not sure whether a charity is legitimate or not, do some research online before giving them any money, as we mentioned above.
- Don’t be rushed into making a donation. If you feel this is the case, take a step back and think about why they are rushing you. If they are, there is a good chance it’s a scam.
- Always be wary following high-profile disasters, especially when it comes to new organizations.
If you have been involved in charity fraud, here’s what you need to do.
Reporting Charity Fraud
The reality of the world we live in is that opportunists take advantage wherever they can. Did you know that in 2021, there was over $5.8 billion in fraud reported by American consumers? That was up from $3.4 billion in 2020, representing an increase of more than 70%. That’s a pretty scary figure. The reality of course is that this figure is in fact much higher, as not everyone reports fraud.
If you have become aware of a charity scam, or if you’ve unfortunately been a victim of one, there here’s what you need to do.
- First, you need to contact your state consumer protection office
- Report the charity fraud to the FBI by visiting Tips.FBI.Gov
- You should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
- You can also report any charity scams to the Internet Crime Complain Centre (part of the FBI)
- If it’s disaster-related fraud that you’ve identified, get hold of the National Centre for Disaster Fraud.
A quick online search will get you all the details you need for each of the above.
Typical Types Of Charity Fraud
The types of charity fraud can vary, but here are some of the most common ones:
1. Fake Charities
This is one of the most common types of charity fraud. The scammer will create a fake charity and solicit donations from unsuspecting individuals.
2. Phishing Scams
Phishing scams involve an email or other communication that appears to be from a legitimate charity but is actually from a scammer. They may ask for money or personal information, such as credit card numbers.
3. Bogus websites
This type of scam involves a website that looks very similar to the website of a legitimate charity but is actually created by the scammer.
While you may want to do good, it’s important that you take a cautious and sensible approach when it comes to donating to charity. If you are ever unsure, do your research and see what other people are saying about the charity online.
Don’t let the fear of charity scams hold you back from donating to a good cause. Just make sure you do so to a reputable and respected charitable organization.
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