How to Prevent Yourself from Falling into Charity Scam & Fraud This Holiday Season. Christmas season is here again, and everybody is having a family time. With lots of joy this 2020/2021 holiday season, many people usually turn to charities to give back to the world. You will agree that the last thing on their minds is give money to online scammers instead of a specific cause they truly support. According to reports from the FBI’s website, charity fraud increases during the holidays. This is the period people choose to make end-of-year tax deductible gifts and souvenirs.

The FBI site has this quote; “Seasonal charity scams can pose greater difficulties in monitoring nationwide. This is simply because of its widespread reach, limited duration and, when done over the Internet, minimal oversight”.

With that in mind, it‘s very important to be extra careful when choose your recipients. You should verify the group to which you’re giving funds to make sure it isn’t actually a charity scam. Now, let us take a quick look at what people should look out for when they’re giving to Non-Governmental Organisations. Here are some common scammer tactics and reputable tools to make sure your money reaches a trusted NGO.

What’s Behind a Charity Scam?

First of all, notice that the people behind a charity scam, as with other types of fraud, usually start by disguising what they’re doing online. Most of the accurately impersonate well-known charities. Some others make up a name of their own selves. Most a-times, they carefully follow the news and create scams around natural disasters, such as hurricanes, flood or wildfires. However, they are also known to prey upon supporters of widelife and evergreen causes. They use the following;

* Phishing Emails

Some of them usually use phishing emails which is often part of their charity scam. How do they do this? They simply try to trick the intended mail recipient into handing over their banking information for the purpose of making a charity donation. The worse part is that this trick might lead the donors to a page designed to steal their payment card details. In addition, some attackers take this to the next level by sending out spear-phishing emails that specifically target users based on what’s important to their organisation.

* Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)

To extract this information, these scammers will take time to conduct an Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). They do this by reviewing what users post about on social media accounts and other public domains. They in turn make us of what they find to keep the scam procedure alive. From this point, they can carefully draft an official email that asks the user to contribute to a relevant cause of their interest. On the other hand, they can simply send a thank you email for a donation they didn’t make as a means of pricking their target’s conscience into giving more money.

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How to Detect a Charity Scam or Email

Spotting a scam is sometimes complicated but with carefulness, you can detect it. First and foremost, you should be aware that Charity scam solicitations will likely come through emails, cold calls, crowdfunding sites. They have even and even gone further to using fake social media accounts and secure websites. Now, the best method to avoid being a victim of a fraudulent scam this season is by doing your homework as advised by The Federal Trade Commission.

1. You Should do Your Research Thoroughly

Detailed Research and planning can help minimize your chances of falling for a charity scam this Holiday Season.

  1. First, search an organization’s name along with the keyword ‘complaint’ or ‘scam.’
  2. Secondly, carefully review the results for signs of red flags.
  3. Thirdly, you can look up consumer reviews from those who’ve given to the charity in the past. Use nasconet.org to look up their state’s charity official’s opinion. You can also use trusted tools, such as the BBB Wise Giving Alliance or the GuideStar Charity Check. If you don’t see anything significantly suspicious, you can then visit their website and review the information there-in.
  4. Lastly, you can search for specific information about how the organization uses people’s donations. How much of the money they receive goes to the cause? How do they accept contributions from contributors?

2. Assess Payment Options

In this part of the world. a charity will never ask you to pay using a bank account. However, it might be applicable in some regions like Africa. In this case, you can verify from their local authorities. In which ever case, do not submit any payment to a charity that is asking for money in the form of cash or gift card. The safest form of payment is a credit card especially in Europe and America. In addition, before clicking on a link to donate online, be sure you know who is receiving your charity donation.

Also, it’s remarkably a good idea to keep records or receipts of any donations you made. Go a step further to review your banking statements to ensure you’re only charged the amount you agreed to donate. And, check the payments details to know whether the person/organisation included in the signature line has any approved identifiable credentials.

3. Know Scammer Tricks

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) notes that scammers have tell-tale tricks that can raise red flags. A few are:

  • Claiming your donation is tax-deductible when it is not.
  • Using names that sound similar to the names of real charities. 
  • Guaranteeing sweepstakes winnings in exchange for donations.
  • Changing caller ID to make it look like they are calling from a local area code.

In a real sense, if you feel any sense of guilt or necessity in a charity language, avoid making a donation. Trust me, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give to groups you’re sure aren’t a charity scam/fraudsters. Additionally, look for the ones you’d like to support instead of waiting for them to come to you first.

Christmas: A Happy and Safe Giving Season

In summary, the holidays are a perfect time for people to give some cheer and donate to a cause that they truly support. Truth be told; by following these charity scam prevention tips, you won’t just prevent the charity scam from stealing their personal or financial information. They will also make sure their donations end up in the right hands of those who need really it. This article featured How to Not Fall for a Charity Scam This Holiday Season.