If you’ve heard about a recent crisis and want to help by giving to a charity, that’s really kind! Unfortunately, scammers set up fake charities to take advantage of your generosity. Learn how you can avoid charity scams and make sure your donation goes to the right place.
1. Social Media
If someone asks you to give on social media, look up the charity and add words like “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” or “scam” to your search. You can also check with places like the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or Candid. If the message was from a friend, ask them if they know the organization themselves. Make sure to find out how much of your money actually goes to people who need it.
2. Crowdfunding Sites
Be careful about giving to individuals on crowdfunding sites. Some scammers pretend to be concerned citizens collecting for a cause but their true intentions are to pocket your money rather than give it to the cause. It’s safest to donate to someone you know and trust. Review the platform’s policies and procedures. Some crowdfunding sites will check out postings asking for help after a crisis to confirm they’re legit. Others don’t.
3. Secure Payment Methods
Avoid donating to anyone who says you have to pay with cash, gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. That’s how scammers tell you to pay. If you choose to give, use a credit card for extra protection.
4. Text to Donate
Confirm the number before you text to donate. Go straight to the charity to confirm the number. If it’s not their number, use a number you know is real or go to the charity’s website to donate.
Take your time to research and plan to avoid donating to tricky scammers. Always give to charities you know and trust, especially ones that have a good history of helping when there’s a big problem. It’s usually better to donate money instead of items. If you want to send goods like clothing or supplies, it’s a good idea to confirm with the charity what items they are collecting. To learn more, visit ftc.gov/charity.