Avoiding Charity Scams

Wednesday, April 24 at 01:00 PM
Category: Arvest News

When you decide to support a cause you care about, you want your donation to count. Arvest Bank is providing tips for consumers to avoid scams and help ensure your donations get where they’ll do good.

Do some research online

  • Looking for a charity to support? Search for a cause you care about – like “hurricane relief” or “homeless kids” – and phrases like “best charity” or “highly rated charity.”
  • When you consider giving to a specific charity, search its name plus “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” or “scam.”
  • Check out the charity’s website. Does it give information about the programs you want to support, or how it uses donations? How much of your donation will go directly to support the programs you care about? If you can’t find detailed information about a charity’s mission and programs, be suspicious.

Be careful how you pay

  • If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it. That’s how scammers ask you to pay.
  • To be safer, pay by credit card or check.
  • It’s a good practice to keep a record of all donations. And review your statements closely to make sure you’re only charged the amount you agreed to donate – and that you’re not signed up to make a recurring donation.

Keep scammers’ tricks in mind

  • Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. That’s something scammers do.
  • Some scammers try to trick you into paying them by thanking you for a donation that you never made.
  • Scammers can change caller ID to make a call look like it’s from a local area code.
  • Some scammers use names that sound a lot like the names of real charities. This is one reason it pays to do some research before giving.
  • Scammers make lots of vague and sentimental claims but give no specifics about how your donation will be used.
  • Bogus organizations may claim that your donation is tax-deductible when it is not.
  • Guaranteeing sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a donation is not only a scam, it’s illegal.

If you get a call from a fundraiser:

  • You don’t have to give over the phone. Don’t let any caller pressure you. A legitimate charity will be happy to get your donation at any time, so there’s no rush. Take time to do the research.
  • Ask the fundraiser for the charity’s exact name, web address, and mailing address, so you can confirm it later. Some dishonest telemarketers use names that sound like large well-known charities to confuse you.
  • Ask how much of your donation will go directly to the program you want to help. Then, call the organization directly and ask them, too, or see if the information is on their website. What else does the charity spend money on? Some fundraising can be very expensive, leaving the charity with little money to spend on its programs.
  • Ask if your donation will be tax-deductible. Not every call seeking a donation is from a charity. Some calls might be from Political Action Committees or other groups where donations are not deductible. You can make sure that your donation is to a charity and tax-deductible by looking up the organization in the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search.
  • Check to see if the fundraiser and charity are registered with your state’s charity regulator (if that’s required in your state).

Report scams to FTC.gov/complaint*. Find your state charity regulator at nasconet.org* and report to them, too. Share any information you have – like the name of the organization or fundraiser, phone number, and what the fundraiser said.

Organizations that can help you research charities

These organizations offer reports and ratings about how charitable organizations spend donations and how they conduct business:

The IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search* tells you if your donation would be tax deductible.

If you see any red flags, or if you’re not sure about how a charity will use your donation, consider giving to a different charity. There are many worthy organizations who will use your donation wisely.

 

* Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Source: FTC.gov

 

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