There are people on the Internet waiting to exploit your generous nature. A little research can help your charity dollars reach those that you intend to assist.
- First, get the exact name of the organization and search for it online, paired with the words “complaint” or “scam”;
- Check to see if the charity must be registered by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials (http://www.nasconet.org/);
- To see if the charity is trustworthy, check with the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance (http://www.bbb.org/us/charity), Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org/), Charity Watch (http://charitywatch.org/) or Guidestar (http://www.guidestar.org/);
- The Internal Revenue Service web page (http://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/) will reveal which organizations are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.
Research is only the first step. Next there are a number of warning signs of fraudulent charities. Unless you have previously given your email address to a particular charitable group, assume that any email you receive from a charity is bogus. Clicking on a link enclosed in such an email could also create a pathway for malware to enter your computer.
Also, beware of “charities” that:
- Won’t provide detailed information about its identity, mission, costs, and how the donation will be used.
- Refuses to offer proof that a contribution is tax deductible.
- Has a name that closely resembles that of a better-known, reputable organization.
- Thanks you for a pledge you don’t remember making.
- Uses high-pressure tactics like trying to get you to donate immediately, without giving you time to think about it and do your research.
- Asks for donations in cash or asks you to wire money, or offers to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect the donation immediately.
- Guarantees sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution. By law, you never have to give a donation to be eligible to win a sweepstakes.
So you’ve decided to make a donation to a particular charity. Your wariness shouldn’t end there, however.
Be certain the website of the charity you’ve chosen uses encryption technology before entering sensitive information such as credit-card numbers or bank draft information. Check the URL: http:// is not secure, while https:// is secure. There should also be a key or padlock symbol located in the corner of the web browser. If you’re uncertain, contact the charity by phone or email before donating.
For more information, visit http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0011-charity-scams.
For help with a computer problem, visit http://www.hcp4biz.com/support-request/