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

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The war in Ukraine and 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.

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The Better Business Bureau’s Give.org website recently 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.

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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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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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