There have been several stories in the news lately – such as the Colorado wildfires and the bullied school bus monitor – that have resulted in a tremendous outpouring of charitable donations. These inspirational stories of heroics and goodwill offer a reminder to take steps to ensure your contribution is going towards its intended cause.
When disaster strikes people naturally want to help. For many, that help comes in the form of donations. Unfortunately, con-artists are attuned to the softer side of human nature and will take advantage of the opportunity to create fraudulent charities or enact a charitable scam in efforts to prey upon the compassion of others.
Be cautious when donating to charity. The Internet Crime Complaint Center prepared this helpful memo regarding charitable contribution schemes. Its key points are highlighted below:
- Be very wary of unsolicited email requesting donations. Spam email is a very common tool for thieves. Make sure the charity you’re contributing to is legitimate – after all, you want your money to actually get to the people you’re trying to help. Don’t click on any links sent to you through email. Go directly to the charity’s website instead.
- Be especially cautious when making a donation using a credit card. If the charity is a fraudulent one, not only has your contribution disappeared, but the fraudulent charity now has your credit card information as well.
- If you think you’ve been a victim of a charity-related scheme, you can contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud by telephone at (866) 720-5721, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Be sure to report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.