Financial Friday: How to Avoid Charity Scams During the Holidays
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Generosity is abundant as we approach the holidays. Charities receive about 41% of their contributions at the end of the year. Local organizations benefit from donations to support veterans, provide toys for kids and help feed families.
Unfortunately, scammers want to take advantage of all the goodwill. WAFF talked to the Bank Compliance Manager at Redstone Federal Credit Union, Denise Cassidy. She shared these ways to safely give to the causes you care about – without becoming a victim.
- Research charities: Donate only after searching for the charity online to ensure it’s legitimate. Even if someone you know suggests an organization, it’s best to research yourself. Consider using a charity evaluator, such as Charity Navigator.
- Practice cybersecurity: Don’t open unsolicited emails or click unknown links or ads. When you visit a website, be wary of spelling mistakes and a lack of contact info; those are signs something isn’t right. Use a trusted search engine to ensure you choose vetted websites. Before you enter your financial information online, look for the lock icon and “https” at the beginning of the URL, which indicates that you have a secure connection. Also, avoid using public Wi-Fi when you go online; wait until you’re on a private, secure network.
- Track donations: Using a credit card or writing a check to track your money and ensure it goes to the right place is best. Scammers prefer donations by cash, gift card, cryptocurrency, or wire transfer because those keep you from seeing where your money goes.
- Know the recipients: If you don’t recognize an organization’s name, avoid any communications claiming that you’ve donated in the past, and ignore cold calls pressuring you to give immediately.
- Report scams: It’s better to be safe if you feel unsure whether something is a scam. Step back and do more research, or choose a different charity. If you suspect you’ve been duped, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
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