In the aftermath of Hurricanes Florence and Michael, we just wanted to remind you that there are many legitimate charities doing effective work in North Carolina and elsewhere. But unfortunately, some of the people who try to get you to give to charity may be out to scam you. They may even try to use recent events, such as natural disasters, to make their phony pleas for donations sound more believable. Learn how to spot and avoid charity scams:
- If you want to give to charity, do your homework first. Read our tips on how to check out a charity and learn how it would put your donation to work before you give.
- Watch out for pushy telemarketers. Telemarketers that refuse to answer your questions, offer to pick up your donation or pressure you are usually up to no good. Also, some telemarketers keep up to 90 percent of the money they collect for charities. Your money will go further if you give directly to the real charity, not to hired fundraisers.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited emails and text messages asking you to give. Even if the message looks legitimate, it could be an example of phishing. The messages may include links to copycat web sites of legitimate charities to try to trick donors.
- Be careful of social networking posts asking you to donate. The cause may sound worthy, but you have no way of verifying how your money would really be used.
- Watch out for fake charities that sound real. Some scammers use names that are very close to the names of real charities, non-profits or even law enforcement agencies. If you want to donate, contact the real charity or organization at a website or phone number you know to be valid.
- Don’t give cash. Cash gifts can be lost or stolen. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by credit card. If you pay by check, make it out to the charity itself, not the fundraiser.
- Protect your personal information. Never give your credit card or bank account number to someone you don’t know who contacts you, for any reason.
- Be skeptical if someone thanks you for a pledge or donation you don’t remember. If you have any doubt, check your records. Be on the alert for invoices claiming you have made a pledge when you know you haven’t.
- Say no to high-pressure appeals. Legitimate fundraisers won’t push you to give on the spot.
Source: NC Department of Justice