Look Out For Charity Scams

Nov 21, 2018 Safety & Security

Safely donate money this season and avoid being tricked by scammers and con artists with these tips.

An older woman sitting at a table and using a cell phone, she has a notepad and open laptop in front of her.

The season of giving is here, where we take time to be thankful and give back to those in need. Unfortunately, individuals and companies around the world use this to their advantage and trick people into giving them money that won’t be used for good.

How can you tell if a charity is legitimate or not? According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are multiple tactics scammers will use to get to you pay up.

If you’re feeling in the mood to make donations, here are some ways to make sure your charity will do the right thing.

How To Spot A Charity Scam

Do Your Research

The simplest option is to do your own research of the organization before making any donations. You can do this by performing a quick online search and seeing what comes up, including any reviews, consumer reports, and data.

You can also search for the organization with keywords like ‘complaints’ or ‘scam’ do see if anything else pops up about their reputation that you wouldn’t have otherwise known.

Pay the Right Way

To keep a record of your donations, it’s best to pay the charity with a check or credit card. This will keep you safe for security purposes and make sure you’re able to claim it for your taxes; it’s best to never send cash donations because you won’t have a record.

Never wire money to someone claiming to be a charity and don’t provide any personal information, including your card number or banking info, without doing research first.

Donation Disasters

It’s unfortunate, but charities that pop up immediately after disaster strikes might not be legit. While crowdfunding efforts might have the best interest at heart, it’s possible that they will have difficulty reaching the right individuals when it comes time to distribute the money.

It’s also a good idea to check if the charity is doing on-the-ground relief efforts to help the affected area.

If you are interested in donating money to help relief efforts, consider organizations like the American Red Cross.

Two great resources to use for any charity donations are Charity Navigator and Give.org. They can verify that you’re donating to a reputable source and help you research the right option.


You can also celebrate being in the giving spirit by donating more than just money. Volunteer your time, clean up a park, or donate furniture, clothes, or pantry food to a local charity in need. If you do donate money, keep a record of what you give and do your research ahead of time. Whatever you chose to do, take pride in how you’re giving back to your community and enjoy the holiday season.

A woman staring into a window, there are holiday lights behind her.

Holiday Spending Survival Guide

Use our free Holiday Spending Survival Guide to easily keep track of your budget and following these steps.

Related Articles

Banking on each other.
Building stronger communities.®