When disaster strikes, many of us receive flyers in the mail, a phone call, or a personalized email about how to make a donation for relief efforts. Even though many legitimate charities use these channels of communication, so do scam artists. They will try to pocket your money by stealing or creating false advertisements. Before donating to a charity, familiarize yourself with the organization.
Some warning signs to look out for:
- High pressure pitches. Just hang up— it’s okay, you can reject them.
- If you receive a thank you for a pledge you don’t remember making. Always be skeptical!
- A request for cash—A big sign it’s a scam
- Charities that offer overnight delivery
- Charities that just pop up after a disaster
- Be wary of promises of guaranteed sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer agency, says it’s wise to be cautious when making donation decisions. Scam artists will try to take advantage of your generosity while taking your money.
Here are some things you should do before you make a donation:
- Ask for the charity’s basic information: name, address, phone number and gather any written information about the program.
- Ask if the person you’re speaking to is a professional fundraiser and how much your contribution will go to the fundraising costs.
- Check your state office (which regulates the list of charities operating in your state) by visiting the National Association of State Charity Officials. The Charitable Organization Division of the Secretary of State’s Office handles these duties in Maryland.
With all of these words of warning in mind, there are plenty of repudable organizations out there who can put your money to excellent use in the aftermath of any disaster. Some of the most popular organizations include:
In fact, if you’d rather use your phone and text your donation, you can simply send the words “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross. You’ll receive a text response asking you to confirm your donation. Just respond “YES” and $10 will be donated to the Red Cross and added to your next phone bill.
Happy donating!Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/heather/