Now that Americans have paused to give thanks, this week brings the National Day of Giving, or #GivingTuesday.
Whether you’re looking to help victims of a recent natural disaster such as the California wildfires, or donate to a charity, it’s worth doing some homework and prep work to avoid scams and make sure the organization you’re donating to is legitimate.
Remember to be wary of urgent appeals for help, whether they’re made in person, by phone or mail, by email or on websites or social networks, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Fraudsters may be soliciting for fake charities and may not be honest about how your contribution will be used. You can research a charitable appeal by searching its name plus “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” or “scam.”
— Donate to charities you know and trust, and those that have a proven track record. Research charities using a tool like the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance; Charity Navigator; CharityWatch; or GuideStar.
— If you want to help a specific cause, such as disaster victims, some organizations allow you to specify where you want your contribution to go. Undesignated contributions will go into the organization’s general fund.
— Donating by text? Confirm the number with the organization before you donate.
— Resist impulse donations. Take some time to look into the organization and find out how donations are used. You may also want to check what information they gather on donors and how that information is used and stored.
— Watch for phishing attempts. These may come in the form of an email link asking you to “click here” to support a crowdfunding campaign, or emails for those affected by natural disasters. Don’t click an email link or open an attachment unless you were expecting it.
— Look out for spoofed emails. These may look real at first glance, but aren’t. Hover your mouse or cursor over the sender’s address to see if it looks legitimate. Remember, if you want to support that charity, you can always go directly to their website rather than respond to an email.
— A word about Wi-Fi. Don’t make online donations on a public or unsecure Wi-Fi network. This could put your financial information at risk. And remember, just because a network requires a password doesn’t mean it’s secure.
The holiday season is a time of giving for many. But taking a few minutes to research where your money is going not only benefits you – it benefits your intended recipients as well.
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.