Holiday Scams: Research Charities Before Handing Over Your Cash

This is the time of year when scammers try to weasel nice people out of their cash by pretending to represent a charity. Don’t fall for it! When considering giving to a charity, take some time to do a little research. Here are few websites that will help you find a legit charity that will use your money for good — rather than evil. Or iPods.

  • Charity Navigator www.charitynavigator.org “Charity Navigator, America’s premier independent charity evaluator, works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of over 5,300 of America’s largest charities.”

  • BBB Wise Giving Alliance www.BBB.org/charity “The BBB Wise Giving Alliance (the Alliance) helps donors make informed giving decisions and advances high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public.”
  • Guide Star www.guidestar.org “GuideStar’s mission is to revolutionize philanthropy and nonprofit practice by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving.”

…And just for good measure here are some tips from the Arizona Attorney General that will help you avoid scammers.

Here are our favorites:

  • Be wary of emotional appeals, especially those that insist that, due to an “emergency,” you must send money now.

  • Be careful of charities with names that sound impressive or resemble those of other organizations. Some scam artists use names similar to reputable organizations to confuse donors.
  • Call the charity directly; ask for financial accounting if you feel you need more information.
  • Remember to ask for a receipt and a statement that the contribution is tax-deductible.
  • Be extremely skeptical of anyone asking for a donation by requesting your credit-card number or bank account information over the phone.

Don’t be taken in by scams that target holiday giving [Arizona Daily Star]
(Photo: frankieleon )