10 Ways to Spot a Charity Scam
Posted by Staff Writers on May 18, 2011
Donating to a charity is one of the most generous gifts a person can give, but it’s important to make sure that your good intentions are not wasted on one of the many charity scams circulating the country. Here are 10 ways to spot a charity scam:
Refuses to Provide Important Documentation
If a charity refuses to provide tangible documentation of its identity, mission, costs and how the donation will be used, you’re most likely dealing with a charity scam. All charities should have a name, contact person, phone number and address in which they can be reached.
Doesn’t Provide Proof of Tax-Deductible Contribution
Charities that cannot provide the paperwork needed to claim a contribution is tax deductible, may reveal themselves as a charity scam. In order to claim a tax deduction for your monetary donation, you need to have written confirmation from the charity that includes: the charity’s name, date of contribution and donation amount. Just like you need a receipt to return an item, you need these documents to get a tax deduction.
Pressures Donors to Hurriedly Give Contributions
If a charity pressures you to donate in a hurried manner, then you might be dealing with a charity scam. Organizations that use high-pressure strategies to get money before a donor has had an adequate amount of time to decide are often up to no good. These bogus charities may also offer to send couriers or overnight delivery services to collect donations as quick as possible.
Thanks You for Pledging to Donate When You Haven’t
If a charity thanks you for pledging to donate when you can’t recall ever doing so, you are most likely dealing with a bogus charity. This is another kind of high-pressure tactic that’s used to guilt people into donating even when they can’t remember pledging to donate. Avoid falling for this sneaky trick by keeping a record of all pledges and past donations on hand for these particular phone calls.
Uses Similar Sounding Names
If a charity sounds oddly similar to another organization, you might be dealing with a phony charity. These bogus charities often copy the names of legitimate and respected organizations in hopes that you’ll recognize the name and be more willing to donate. If there is a slight difference between the name of the charity, your best bet is to call the organization to inquire on their name, mission, costs and additional information.
Promises Sweepstakes Winnings in Exchange for Donation
If a charity guarantees sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution, you are most likely dealing with a charity scam. You should never have to give money or any type of donation to be eligible for a sweepstakes. Bogus charities promise sweepstakes winnings as a way to lure you into donating in hopes of winning money in return.
Asks for Bank or Credit Card Information Before Agreement Has Been Made
If a charity asks you for your bank account or credit card information before you’ve even agreed to donate, then you could be dealing with a charity scam. This is another example of a pressure tactic used by bogus charities to get you to donate immediately. Do not give anyone your personal banking or credit information until you’ve done your research on the charity and have agreed to contribute.
Asks for Cash Only Donations
If a charity asks for cash only donations, it could be a scam. Organizations that only ask for cash donations are likely to use the money for undisclosed reasons, and it could get lost or stolen. In order to have documentation of payment for security and tax record purposes, you should pay the charity, not the solicitor, by check.
Claims 100 Percent of Collected Funds Goes to Charity’s Cause
Charities that claim to give 100 percent of collected funds to their organization’s cause can be a cause for concern. All legitimate charities incur operating and administrative costs, which comes out of the donation pool. All accredited charities have to meet the 65/35 split, meaning a minimum of 65 percent of donations have to go to the cause in which you’re donating and a maximum of 35 percent can go to administrative expenses. So, in essence, no legitimate and actively-running charity will be able to give all 100 percent of donations to their cause.
Online Messages or E-mails About Donations
If a charity sends you messages and e-mails asking for donations online, you may have encountered a charity scam. These online requests for donations are most likely spam or completely bogus. In order to avoid this scam and make sure your money goes to the right people, contact the charity yourself or go to their website to inquire on donations.