By LISA LAKE
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
Wildfires raging out West. The hurricane season. Civil unrest. And all of this happening during a global pandemic that has claimed its own devastating share of deaths and cost people their livelihoods. In response to these events, the season of giving is starting even before the usual holidays, since we all just want to help where and as we can.
But shameless scammers want to help themselves to your money. And they’re competing with legitimate charities, taking advantage of your generosity. So, as you open your heart and wallet to help people and causes, be sure to consider the following tips for safe giving.
●Never let anyone rush you into donating. Pressuring you to act right away is something that scammers do.
●Don’t assume the charity appeals you see online or on social media are legitimate, even if someone you know sends them to you. Even if a group sounds legit, know that some scammers use names that sound like real charities, only they’re not.
●Before you donate, research the name of the organization or cause. Search their name online, plus the words “scam,” “fraud,” or “complaint.”
●Find out if the charity or fundraiser is registered in your state. Check with your state’s charity regulator to find out. If the charity isn’t registered, consider donating elsewhere.
To get more tips on how to spot and avoid charity scams, go to ftc.gov/charity — and check out the video below. And if you think you’ve spotted a fake charity, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.