Perhaps in the many weeks or months to come, we will look back at this time and reflect on just how much our lives, our jobs, and our daily routines all changed during the pandemic. But one thing that will not change, are the needs of our charitable communities. Even if they are not on the frontlines, it is a good idea to support the nonprofits you already do. They will need your support to recover during this time. According to the Federal Trade Commission, here are some tips to help you plan your donation and avoid scams.
Research the Charity
Search for a cause you care about like hurricane relief, food pantries, or homeless for example. If you donate regularly to a charity, then consider staying with that since you are comfortable with the donation process. If you are consider giving to a specific charity, search its name using key words like compliant, reviews, ratings or scams. Organizations such as GuideStar can help you. You can also contact the Wyoming Community Foundation and the Wyoming Nonprofit Network for assistance. During the COVID-19 crisis, you may wish to visit here on other ways you can donate during this time. If you would like to make a donation to a national charity, select ones that are well known, like the American Red Cross, for example. And finally, consider using the IRS’s Tax-Exempt Organization search field to determine if your donation is tax deductible.
Be Careful How You Pay
If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it. That’s how scammers ask you to pay. Rather, pay by credit card or check. It’s also good practice to keep a record of all your donations and review your statements closely to make sure you’re only being charged the amount you agreed to donate. Double check you are not signed up to make recurring donations, unless you know you agreed to that. And finally, before clicking on a link to donate online, make sure you know who is receiving your donation.
Scammers Use Tricks. Keep That in Mind
Don’t let anyone rush you into donating. That’s a tactic most scammers use. Some scammers may try and trick you into paying them by thanking you for a donation that you never made. Scammers can also change caller ID to make a call look like it’s from a local area code. And some scammers will also use names that sound like the names of real charities, but in fact are not. Also, during this time, it is important that the elderly understand how a phone, email or mail scam works. Take time to have this discussion with those you know who may benefit from this information.
If you notice any red flags, report them. It is better to be safe than sorry. Report scams to FTC.gov/complaint. You can also find your state charity regulator at nasconet.org and report to them too. Share any information you have like the name of the organization or fundraiser, phone number, and what the fundraiser said.
Doing research in advance of making your charitable donation will help ensure your money gets there safely, and most importantly, where it will do the most good!