The first step of finding a legitimate charity is research. This is especially important for new donors or donors looking to give to a new organization. If searching online, use caution and take time to read the website address. Fraudulent organizations and scammers will seek URLs that are very similar to a reputable charities. Most organizations have a .org ending rather than a .com.
Once you have narrowed down the charities you are interested in supporting, refocus your research to be more specific. Start by searching for each charity’s name along with a word like complaint, review, rating, or scam. Some organizations work to report on how charitable organizations spend donations and how they conduct their business. This could be useful when there are multiple charities for your cause, and you want to determine which one invests the most into research. Use this link for more.
Nothing indicates a scam like a representative getting angry when you ask questions. Any reputable organization will be more than happy to provide a viable donor with as much information as possible; the last thing they would want to do is make you angry. Whereas, fraudulent organizations may try to bully or push consumers into donating or providing personal information during that same call.
This also applies to those being solicited in person. Ask the representative questions on anything you don’t understand. Even if they answer each question well, they should provide pamphlets or other paper materials for possible donors to look at and decide on. Anyone pressuring you into providing cash or credit card information before they leave is not from a reputable company.
Keep these tips in mind:
- Scammers may try to trick people into paying by claiming they have already donated.
- When asking questions, pay attention to their answers. If they can’t specify with clarity how the money will be used, they are scammers.
- Fraudulent organizations have ways to change their phone numbers on IDs to make it look like it’s from a local area.
The National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) provides a directory of different state charity regulars. Most states require charitable organizations or fundraisers to register before soliciting donations. If you believe you have come across a fraudulent organization, report them to NASCO and FTC.gov/compaint with the name, phone number, and what was said to you.