Even though the holiday season is over, the giving spirit doesn’t stop. Every so often there are disasters that take place (natural or manmade) that cause an outpouring of support. Think Syrian refugees, Nepal earthquake, the nuclear meltdown in Japan. Another example is a political situation that causes people to rally around a specific organization – like the ACLU’s recent revelation that they’ve raised 7x more in a few days than they raised in all of 2015.
People whip out their credit cards to make donations to organizations that will help the causes they care about. Unfortunately, fraudsters also know this and look to capitalize on people’s willingness to help.
How do fraudsters do this?
- Create copycat donation sites posing as the real thing.
- Spam your inbox with links to fake donation sites.
- Compromise/take over your Facebook account and post links to fake donation sites claiming that you donated to. These campaigns can be quite persuasive, since you are move likely to donate if you see your friend donating.
Tips to protect yourself from phony donation sites and emails:
- Verify the charity to see if it’s legit at http://www.charitynavigator.org/
- Be mindful of the email address that the message is coming from. Often, here will be a misspelling or the site will reroute to another similar-looking site.
- Go directly to the site you want to donate to instead of clicking on the link posted by your friend.
Bonus tips for donating to worthy causes!
- If you want to take advantage of tax writeoffs, make sure that you donate to 501(c)(3) organizations only. This can be a bit tricky. For example, if you donate to the ACLU Foundation you’re eligible for a tax deduction, but this same benefit is not available if you donate to the main ACLU page.
- For more tips on making the most of your donation visit Charity Navigator
Bogus email from the someone claiming to be the Red Cross: