Most of us have the gift of human compassion. Whether it is the victim of September 11th or the little orphan across the street we are glad to help out. Unfortunately, thieves know that and take advantage.
Before you give anything to a charity, perform your due diligence before you contribute. Many scam operations were popping up when hurricanes were roaming through the lands of America and the tsunami disaster that swept across the Indian Ocean, striking coastal regions of Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Burma and Malaysia. Be wary of fake donations during a crisis. Sadly, but low life scammers turn disasters into their own money making opportunities. Setting up a phony charity is pretty easy, so below are some tips to avoid charity scams and fake charities. TIPS * Never give payment information to anyone calling YOU * Carefully check the name of the company! Charity scams use similar to original names to cause confusion and obtain your donations.
Example: National Cancer Society (SCAM) instead of American Cancer Society (REAL) * Avoid all charities that use a "pitch" filled with a significant amount of emotional words and or images * Ask the charity to send you printed material via mail. If the material does not contain details on exactly how the money is used and the percent of donations which actually reach the given cause, do not contribute. If some informations are not written and you still would like to know the details, call them.
Legitimate charities withstand secrecy and never hesitate to prove who they are, what they do and how they do it * Check the company with the Better Business Bureau * Don't give in to pressure or hard sell tactics and if the charity representative pressures you to give money immediately or as soon as possible, get even more suspicious * Be careful if the "charity" accepts an online payment processor like paypal and a PO Box as their only payment options. All charities should support the wire transfer also as a PO BOX is anonymous and we know how easy it is to open up a fake paypal account. Reputable charities have a street address and a phone number * If you received a charity request by email check the email address. Is it from a free provider like hotmail or gmail? A charity sending out emails should also have a top level domain like .
org, .com, .net and the email should come from this domain.
The email to which the payments should go should also be a real domain and be part of their website. Something like firstname.lastname@example.org or similar.
However, as a general rule reputable charities don't spam and you won't receive an email from them directly without your prior inquiry.
Urban is the author of Charity Scams and Fake Charities