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Avoid Charity Scams this Holiday Season

Envelope with ribbon tied around it

‘Tis the season for giving and scammers know it, ready to take advantage of your holiday spirit. Here’s what to watch out for to protect yourself from fraud this holiday season.

Stay secure when browsing the web and downloading apps

Be on the lookout for look-alike websites. Check your browser’s web address (URL) bar to ensure the site has “https” in the address. Is that the right web address? Is that email really from Amazon? Don’t click that social media link or email link unless you know for sure. If there’s any doubt, start from scratch and type the URL by hand. Look at it one more time for typos before hitting enter—scammers can set up fake sites to take advantage of web address typos.

Shopping apps are handy—just make sure you download yours directly from the retailer’s website or your phone’s App store. Scammers sometimes set up fake apps to capture sensitive private information—use caution and think twice before downloading.

Don’t let emotions get the best of you on social media, by email or at your door

Someone shares a story on Facebook that really plucks your heartstrings—you want to help. Scammers actively try to take advantage of the goodwill of others. Beware of GoFundMe and other group funding pages—while many are legitimate, some are simply scams.

Same rules apply to email appeals—if you don’t remember signing up for those emails or giving to that organization last year, don’t click through to give this year. Scammers can buy email lists with your name and email.

Other scams show up at your doorstep, often as colorful pamphlets in the hands of fresh-faced teens asking you to support varying causes. Before giving, verify the organization is registered as 501c3 with the IRS by visiting guidestar.org, CharityNavigator.org, or CharityWatch.org.

To make your money go further, avoid professional fundraisers asking for money on behalf of reputable charities. These fundraisers get paid, adding costs that come out of your contribution before they reach the charity. Instead, give directly to the charity.

Give time or give goods instead of money

Research local organizations for opportunities to volunteer or donate goods. Food banks appreciate pricy canned food items like peanut butter, plus they can often put volunteers to work. Winter weather makes new socks a valuable commodity, appreciated by shelters. By donating to and working for an established local organization, you help your community while your family gets the chance to experience the joy of giving.

More Resources

BBB Warning: Avoid These Holiday Scams https://www.bbb.org/holidayscams/

Federal trade Commission: Charity Scams https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0011-charity-scams

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