By Jennifer Margulis White | Special to the NB Indy
While many generous consumers look upon the holiday season as a time to give back to charities close to their hearts, scammers use this time to take advantage of unsuspecting do-gooders opening their wallets to those in need.
In 2014, charitable contributions reached more than $350 billion, with donations from individuals reaching $250 billion alone. Unfortunately there isn’t just one telltale sign of a charity donation scam; the advancement in technology and growth of the marketplace has given way to a plethora of opportunities for fraud.
As we draw closer to the holidays, make sure the money you give makes it to whom you intend. The Better Business Bureau serving Orange, San Diego and Imperial Counties has some tips to follow when considering a donation to a charitable cause.
Don’t let the charity choose you. It may seem perfectly convenient to give to a charity that knocks on your door, calls your phone or approaches you while you’re out and about, but this is exactly the sentiment that scammers prey upon. You should choose to whom you give your money. It may take a little more time and effort, but giving feels better when you know your hard earned money is in the hands of someone who will use it for good deeds.
Beware of look-alike charities. Many scammers will develop a fake name for their cause that sounds remarkably like a legitimate charity. Always do your research before giving money, and you won’t be duped.
Beware of contribution collectors. If a charity representative offers to pick up a donation from your home or from under the mat on your front porch, that should be a red flag. Don’t leave money out for a random person to pick up.
Don’t get pressed. Legitimate charities will still want your money tomorrow. Any time you are in a high-pressure situation with a charity that is claiming that they need your money today, take a moment to ask why they need it now. High-pressure sales tactics, charity and otherwise, are usually a strong indicator that the salesman or solicitor may not be legitimate.
Go against your instincts and be a skeptic. It’s difficult during the holiday season, but when considering a donation to a charity, you should enter with a healthy amount of skepticism. Ask questions like: “How much of my contribution goes directly to those in need?”
Keep ahold of your heartstrings. Don’t get sweet-talked (or in this case sad-talked). There are a lot of sad stories in the world, but just because someone feeds you a line about necessity doesn’t mean it’s the right charity for your donation. Follow your head, not your heart.
For more information, visit BBB.org.