With the holidays upon us, many people think about giving back. One of the most common ways is by donating to charities. While there are plenty of good, legitimate, organizations, there are also many scam artists waiting to take advantage. Here are four general tips for avoiding fraud.

  1. Plan your contributions in advance: Impulse giving is more likely to lead to giving to a shady organization. A big part of this is because scammers love making big emotional appeals to get people to give without thinking it through.
  2. Be wary to similar sounding names: Oftentimes, scammers will name their charities something similar to bigger, more known charities to trick people.
  3. Research the charity before donating: Reputable charities report their finances to the IRS and their operating numbers to outside groups such as the BBB and Charity Watch. Going to the websites for these organizations can yield information as to whether the charity you’re thinking about is honest.
  4. Be wary of how the charity asks for donations: Avoid making cash payments, if possible. If they ask for checks, they should not be made out to individuals. Also, a common red flag is if the organization asks for money via gift cards.

Giving to charity is noble, but blindly giving can lead to money going to the hands of bad people. Do your homework before giving.

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