How To Avoid Getting Scammed By Fake Charities

How To Avoid Getting Scammed By Fake CharitiesAs the holiday season approaches, most of us are thinking about spending time with our families, and helping charities who are making a difference in our communities.

If you find yourself in a giving mood this year (which is always a good thing), and you’re planning on donating to a charity, to lend a hand to those less fortunate…

Keep these 6 important tips in mind, before you fork over your hard earned money, so you don’t get scammed by a “fake charity” this year:

1. Be wary of charities that spring up overnight for the holidays (or even natural disasters).

They will make a hard sell for your money, but may not have the infrastructure to get your money to the right people. Or they just might be a fake charity trying to get their hands on well-meaning people’s money.

2. Don’t be shy about asking who wants your cash.

Some charities hire clever marketing companies to solicit your money (who may even take a cut). And others can easily set up shop in front of your local grocery store, by simply making a sign and having a few T-shirts or flyers printed up.

3. Call the Charity directly and ask for references and more information.

When in doubt, take out your cell phone and ask for the charity’s phone number. Then give them a quick call to verify they are indeed a legitimate charitable organization.

4. Watch out for similar sounding names.

Some phony charities use names that closely resemble legitimate organizations. Some even use similar signs, graphics and shirts they wear, so you get the feeling that they are from a trusted source.

5. Never send or give cash donations.

Giving for giving’s sake is great. However, with the government taking your money every chance they get, it’s a sound financial practice to take advantage of tax deductions whenever you can. So use a credit card when making donations. It’s permanent proof of exactly how much you gave to each charity.

Plus, when giving cash, you can never be 100% sure that 100% of the money you gave actually made it to the charity.

6. Trust your gut when making a final decision.

Even when giving, you still need to trust your gut, when you feel something about a situation is strange. You want your donation to help others in need. If you have the slightest feeling that your donation may not be used in the way you intend, stop and do some research. Then proceed if all is okay, or if you still don’t feel comfortable, help a different charity you know will do the most with your contribution.

To find out more about avoiding fraudulent charities, you can go to www.FTC.gov/charityfraud

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