There are over a million charities in the United States, all vying for your attention and donations. But unfortunately, not every charity is legitimate and some are actively trying to steal your money.
Charity fraud is as common as it is despicable, but that doesn’t mean you should stop giving money altogether.
Read on to learn the four most effective ways to avoid fraud and ensure your money is actually going to the causes you believe in.
Never Donate Money over the Phone
Many scam charities will make cold calls directly to your house. They’ll tell some sob story that will pull at your heartstrings and make you want to open up your wallet and donate. Don’t do it.
A lot of charity fraud is conducted over the phone because it’s an easy way to take advantage of your emotions and gullibility.
And even if the charity isn’t a scam, it’s probably still a waste of money. Charities that solicit money over the phone usually pay third-party telemarketers who will receive as much as 95% of all donated money.
If you’re genuinely enticed by a charity cold call, take a deep breath, politely hang up the phone, and do your own research before you donate.
Protect Yourself Against Scammers
In the worst case, a phone scammer could steal your credit card information and leave you broke and unable to pay your loans. If this happens, consider hiring a bankruptcy lawyer.
It may also be in your interest to seek out a payday loan consolidation company. Payday loans are small loans that help borrowers pay off unanticipated expenses.
Scammers could put you into debt, unable to pay your bills. In this case, calling a payday loan consolidation company, such as Real PDL Help, could be a viable option. Real PDL Help team of financial advisers can help victims of fraud pay off their debt with little interest rates. If you choose to donate online be sure to do your research and find a reputable donation website.
Research the Organization Before Donating
You should always research an organization before donating to it. Start by going to their website and making sure it looks legitimate and ends in “.org” instead of “.com”.
Then, head over to a third-party organization to read reviews and make sure the charity is verified.
Finally, if you really want to go in-depth, ask for the charity’s Form 990. They are required by law to give it to you (unless they’re a religious organization) and it will provide you with all of their relevant financial information.
Make sure they’re spending no more than 35% of donations on administration. You want your donation to go to the people that need it.
If everything checks out, go ahead and donate with confidence.
Be Careful of Similar Name Fraud
This is a surprisingly common charity fraud tactic, and it’s really simple. The scammers will set up a fake charity with a name similar to that of a well-known charity.
For example, you might see a charity called the National Heart Association instead of the American Heart Association.
This one’s easy to avoid. Always double check the name.
Charity Fraud Is Extra Common Right After Disasters
Charity scammers love playing on your goodwill. And your goodwill is never as high as right after a disaster.
If there’s been a recent terrorist attack or natural disaster, put your guard up because the scammers are on their way.
In 2005, as many as 4,000 charity sites with Hurricane Katrina in their name had been set up before the hurricane even made landfall. And scammers stole as much as $4 million dollars from well-meaning donors in the weeks after September 11.
The best way to avoid this type of scam is to donate to big, well-known charities right after a disaster. They’re usually the ones with the infrastructure to make a difference on the ground, and you know they’re not scamming you.
Don’t Fall Victim to Charity Fraud
Fraud is a crime. And unfortunately, fraud does exist in our world, and any person is susceptible to it.
But by following these simple rules, you’ll never be scammed by a fake charity.
If you’re already the victim of fraud, don’t panic. Contact us today! We can help you find the best restitution lawyer.