How many times have you gotten that annoying email from a “Nigerian Prince” who just has to give you millions of dollars? If you just send him your bank account and social security number and some DNA from your first born child, the deal will be sealed.
Unfortunately, scams are everywhere. As much as we would like to think that people are all good, honest citizens, there are plenty who will not hesitate to fool you. In the process, they will try to take your money and even your identity.
So, how do you spot a phony charity? There are several things to look for. Be wary of giving out any personal information over the phone. It’s easy for someone to call you up and impersonate a legitimate organization. How do you know if they’re really from the Red Cross if they are on the phone?
Second, ask for credentials. Ask for a number you can call to verify their legitimacy. Get their website address, supervisor’s name and EIN number (a number filed with the IRS). Call the Better Business Bureau to see if they have ever had any complaints filed against them. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Avoid pushy people. If they seem to be pressuring you to make a donation right away, run away. What’s the rush? Why do they need your money this instant? That’s a red flag that something is not right.
Today’s fraudsters can look like anybody and everybody. They may be well-spoken, well-dressed and may even claim to know your relatives. Don’t fall for it just because they look and sound good.
Be aware that scams can take place over the phone, in the mail, via email or in person. The perpetrators of this type of crime will make every effort to look, sound or seem real.
We’re not saying you should lose all faith in humanity. Just be smart about your charitable giving. Doing a little research to find out if an organization is legitimate will give you peace of mind in the long run.