One of the biggest times for giving is the Christmas season. Since this is a time of thinking of others, many people take this time to make a yearly contribution to a favorite charitable organization.
Unfortunately, there are scammers taking advantage of good-hearted people by pretending to represent a reputable charitable organization. During the holiday season, identity thieves use telephone solicitations to persuade people to give to what they present as a reputable organization. In doing so, they collect personal and credit card information for donations. Once identity thieves have this kind of information, they can do whatever they want with it for financial gain.
Also, identity thieves use copy cat names to take donations. According to Rick Brinkley, president of the Better Business Bureau, this method is known as “copy-cat charities”. Instead of using the official name “Make a Wish” it’s “Grant a Wish”, instead of using the name “American Red Cross” the copy cat name is “National Red Cross” which can lead a victim into thinking it’s the official charity calling them for a donation. Although it may be difficult to turn down a solicitation for a charity during the holidays, it would be good to decline making an over-the-phone donation and instead research an organization of your choice and reach out to them.
If you do want to give, choose one or two charities such as your local homeless shelters, hospitals, chapters, or food banks. This way you are helping out without risking your personal information and credit card.
Here are a few helpful tips I keep in mind when I receive a phone solicitation from a charity:
1. Never give payment information over the telephone.
2. Check the company with the Better Business Bureau.
3. It’s a red flag when a charity representative pressures you to give money immediately or as soon as possible.
4. Think twice if the charity accepts an online payment processor like PayPal or a PO Box as their only payment options.