If you’re reading this, you are no doubt familiar with SPAM emails, and you likely realize that many of those emails are scams, trying to get your money or your personal information. Unfortunately, some scammers try to take advantage of others’ generosity by pretending to be a charity looking for donations.
This is much more subtle that the “deposed prince” style of scam we’ve all seen. Instead, scammers will set up fake websites, set up fake charities, or even use the names of real charities to try and trick you.
As a general rule, legitimate charities don’t solicit through emails. This isn’t to say that no legitimate charity does this, but when they do, it is generally in the line of “click here to donate” as part of a larger message, such as a campaign update. This model is a favorite of political campaigns, actually, to tell you about the campaign and urge you to go make a donation.
But scammers can use the same model to try and trick you. Regardless of who sent the email, whether it’s a group you trust or a person you know, never follow such links. Instead, go to the website of the organization or person in question if you want to donate. If it’s legitimate, that donation will work either way, and if it’s a scam, your money will go to the right place.
If you get an unsolicited email from a charity you aren’t familiar with, it’s likely fraud, and you shouldn’t feel bad about deleting that email outright. Even if it’s a group you’ve heard of, it could be somebody with a similar email address. If you’re not convinced, if it’s a really professional, official looking email, or you just aren’t sure if it’s a real charity, do some online research. Links in such an email might be phishing attempts, and clicking on them could result in infecting your computer. But going to the website’s homepage, or searching for the group online will be much safer.
With a little common sense you can protect yourself from such scams.