How to avoid scams ahead of giving season
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The giving season is underway but consumer experts say ‘tis the season for scammers to try and cash in on your charitable donation.
The Better Business Bureau says Hoosiers reported 39 charitable scams within the last three years, with the highest amount coming from one person in Granger who lost $300,000.
“It is natural that both charitable donations go up and likewise scammers, con artists, knowing that there’s that spirit of giving going on,” said Maria Omar with the BBB. “They also like to take advantage of the fact that people are giving more.”
So to avoid that, the BBB recommends the following rules:
1. Double check the spelling of the organization’s name: Con artists often use well known charities with similar causes, but misspell it slightly, often changing one or two letters. Since it sounds similar and looks similar, people don’t think twice before giving only to later realize it’s not a legitimate charity.
2. Check the organization’s website: The website should include the charity’s mission, programs offered, and financial history. If it doesn’t, it is often a red flag that the charity is fake or a scam. People can also vet it through a third party website, like BBB.org.
3. Avoid on the spot donations: Some may pressure you into giving wherever you are, but the BBB says a reputable charity will welcome your gift at any time. However, if the nonprofit is well known, like the Salvation Army, the BBB says it’s ok to trust the on the spot donation.
4. Do not let people exploit your emotions: Scammers often prey on people’s feelings in hopes that getting them to sympathize with a cause will lead them to donating money.
“Consumers need to remember how scammers like to operate and play on our emotions,” said Omar. “They just need to make sure wherever they give, it’s ruled by research and not just how they’re feeling in that moment.”