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Donating in difficult times

By Jennifer Leach
Associate Director, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
June 8, 2020

These days, there are just so many reasons why people want to do to something to help, to make a difference, to take action. In addition to volunteering or putting their feet to the pavement, lots of people are putting their hands in their wallets to try to make an impact. Once again, though, scammers will be there. As ever, they follow the headlines and pop up wherever there’s money to be made. So, before you make a donation to support any cause, here are a few things to think about and do:

  • Do some research. There are many good organizations to support. Search online for recommendations — and, when you’ve found one that’s well thought of, check it out. Type the group or fund’s name into a search engine, plus the word “scam, “review,” or “complaint.”
  • Consider how you pay. Real charities won’t ask you to pay by cash, money transfer, gift card, or Bitcoin. That’s how scammers ask you to pay. So if someone tells you to donate that way, think about donating elsewhere.
  • Research crowdfunding, too. Many funds that give real help spring up right after a tragedy. But scammers put up crowdfunding pages, too, and it can be hard to tell the difference. You want your money to go to help, so do some online checking to find the real, official funds that support the people or causes you want to support.
  • If someone rushes you, slow down. Scammers want to get your money as soon as they can. They might start calling, pressuring you to give – or even saying you made a pledge. And, since you can’t trust caller ID, you won’t know who’s really calling. So go back to the first bullet: do some research and then give. Just not in response to pressure.

Learn more about other ways to check out charities, and how to give safely, at ftc.gov/charity.

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