Avoiding Charity Scams

For many of us, along with exchanging gifts and celebrating traditions, the holidays are a time to feel the spirit of giving by sharing with the less fortunate. This year especially, the need is great and there are many fine organizations that can help ensure our gifts of money or goods get to those who need them.

More and more charitable giving takes place online these days. The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reminds us that it's important to be aware where your donations are going. They warn internet users that some individuals with criminal intent may solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization or good cause. IC3 advises consumers to keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via email. Validate the legitimacy of the sender by directly accessing a recognized charity's website, rather than clicking on a link to the site from the email.
  • To ensure contributions are used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to charitable organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited email. Only open attachments from known senders. Be cautious of email claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses.
  • Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Providing such information could compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

To learn more about charitable contribution schemes and other types of online scams, visit www.LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com/fraudtypes/charity.aspx.

Source: Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov).