One of the most beautiful things about the holidays is that they inspire me to get into the “spirit of giving” and make donations to charities or participate in toy drives. Unfortunately, there are scam artists out there who are looking to prey upon my generosity during the holiday season with charity scams. Some of the most common charity scams, especially around the holiday season, are phone calls where the caller asks for your financial information over the phone in order to make a contribution to a charitable organization. As a hard and fast rule, I never give my financial info out over the phone or email, since it can easily be misappropriated or stolen. Also, since I can’t tell from just a phone call whether the caller is who he says he is and whether the charity he is soliciting donations from is legitimate, I always politely end the call, research the charity online, and if it is legitimate, make a donation online if I am so inclined.
Also, be wary of charity scams that use a charity name that sounds very similar to a real charity name. For example, “The American Cancer Society” is the name of a legitimate charitable organization, but “The National Cancer Society” is a scam. Also, unless you previously donated to the organization, be wary of charities that solicit your donation via email, and don’t click on any links redirecting you to their website.
The IRS keeps a list of all organizations registered as charities; as such, to research the legitimacy of a charity, search for it on the IRS website here. You can also check with a state’s Attorney General or Charities Bureau to find out about a charity that claims to be registered in a specific state. For more information about how to give wisely and evaluate a charity, check out this KCL article.