BBB Alert: Learn To Avoid Charity Scams During International Charity Fraud Awareness Week

Pensacola – Con artists are experts at playing to our emotions. In honor of International Charity Fraud Awareness Week (October 21-25), BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers these tips on what to watch out for in a charity scam.

How the Scam Works

Scammers can use charitable causes to tug on your heartstrings, so it is important to stay vigilant as you try to do good. Bad actors can try to hook you by misleadingly claiming that they will help particular individuals (like veterans or cancer patients), using robocalls deceitfully suggesting they represent a particular charity, or selling items with the false promise of benefiting a cause.

Donors also need to be on guard when responding to appeals by individuals on crowdfunding sites, particularly during the wake of a disaster. While there are a number of ways to check out charitable organizations, it is difficult to vet so many individuals requesting help on crowdfunding sites.

You may stumble across such online content while surfing the web or scrolling through your social media feed. Sometimes though, fraudsters reach out to you directly via an email, social media direct messages, or even door-to-door campaigns. To help donors avoid disappointment or potential fraud, the first and most important step is to find out more about the charity before giving.

Tips to Avoid Charity Scams

  • Watch out for charity name confusion. Be alert to questionable groups seeking to confuse donors with names that sound similar to charities you know.
  • Resist pressure to give on the spot. Don’t give in to excessive pressure on the phone to make an immediate donation.
  • Find out more about the charity. The charity’s website should provide access to information on its programs, board roster and finances. You can also verify government registration. About 40 of the 50 states in the U.S. require charities to register with the Attorney General’s office or secretary of their state.
  • Do an online search to reveal potential scams. Search the person or charity in question along with the words “complaint” and “scam.” What you find could reveal a dishonest scheme. BBB Scam Tracker can help you learn from others’ experiences. (BBB.org/ScamTracker)
  • Check for BBB charity accreditation. Visit charity reports on Give.org to verify if the organization meets the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability (i.e. a BBB Accredited Charity). There is no charge to charities for accreditation.

For More Information

BBB is joining charity regulators, associations, and others for the second annual International Charity Fraud Awareness Week (ICFAW) from October 21 to 25. For additional resources, visit BBB Wise Giving Alliance’s website (Give.org) for smart giving tips.