Charity Scams: Check Out These Tips From the FBI Before You Donate

Cashier giving US cash money to a client.
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The war in Ukraine and the subsequent exodus of refugees to other countries has created a humanitarian crisis, leading many people to donate money to charities that support the refugees. If you want to donate to these — or other — charities, it’s important to make sure the charity is legitimate.

The Better Business Bureau’s Give.org website posted a blog cautioning donors “to avoid questionable appeals” for money that could turn out to be either scams or causes that are ineffective in actually helping people. Many scammers create fake donation websites or make fraudulent pleas for help to separate you from your money.

Before donating, vet the charity first to make sure it’s not a scam. A few places to find information on charities are Give.org, CharityNavigator, CharityWatch and GuideStar, the AARP reported.

The FBI also offers suggestions on how to avoid charity scams. Here are four of them:

  • Be on the lookout for groups with copycat names or names similar to those of reputable, well-known organizations.
  • Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments from strangers who request money.
  • Never provide your personal information in response to emails, robocalls or robotexts.
  • If you want to donate, use something traceable like a check or credit card. If an organization asks you to donate using cash, gift cards, virtual currency or a wire transfer, it’s probably a scam.
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You can also verify a charity’s trustworthiness by viewing an evaluative report completed by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.

Also, be on the lookout for groups that claim to spend 100% of their money on relief, because that’s all but impossible. As the AARP notes, charities have fundraising and administrative expenses that need to be paid for out of your donation, and charities that claim otherwise are probably misleading you.

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