How to avoid identity theft scams in times of crisis

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Whether it’s an effort to support women’s rights or gun control, fight climate change or help Ukrainian refugees, more and more Americans are donating to charity this year in response to global challenges.

However, there are just as many scammers trying to take advantage of the current environmental, social and geopolitical unrest.

“Whenever there’s something that’s in the spotlight, there will be people who take advantage of it,” said Kevin Scally, director of relationships at Charity Navigator, which independently assesses and rates nonprofits. lucrative.

Charity impersonation scams can be hard to spot

Bad actors posing as charities take advantage of the goodwill and generosity of donors.

Yael Fuchs

president of the National Association of State Charity Officials

“Bad actors posing as charities take advantage of the goodwill and generosity of donors using well-known causes such as cancer, veterans and local firefighters,” wrote Yael Fuchs, president of the National Association of State Charity Officials. “Using high-pressure tactics to shoot at the hearts of consumers to compel them to donate on the spot, these bad actors intend to give the consumer no time to research their claims before agreeing to make a donation. Don.”

Ultimately donors pay a high price, “High volume direct mail or telemarketing solicitation makes these scams profitable and can result in the loss of millions of dollars in charitable assets due to fraudulent charitable solicitations.”

5 ways to avoid charity scams

To make sure your money is in the right hands, Scally offers these tips for avoiding charity scams:

  • Never click on a link or attachment to donate online. “A donation form might look very legit, but it could be people trying to take advantage of people’s kindness,” he said. Rather than using the link provided, do your own research.
  • Research the relief effort through a site such as BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator Where CharityWatch and read reviews online. Then, enter the charity URL yourself to independently confirm that you are coordinating with the correct organization.
  • Use organizations with a proven track record and a clearly established mission. If this is a personal appeal for funds through a site like GoFundMe, continue to donate to people or groups you know and can vouch for.
  • Always pay with a credit card, which offers additional layers of protection, rather than a debit card, which takes money directly from your checking account, and never donate in the form of gift cards or Bank transfers.
  • Regularly check your accounts for suspicious activity or unauthorized charges. Even verified organizations can trick you into increasing the amount or frequency of your donations without you realizing it, another tactic that goes against best practice, Scally said. “It’s definitely something to watch out for.”

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