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Seasonal scam security

’Tis the season for gifting—and one of the best gifts of all is to support those in need with a charitable donation. These tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can help you plan your donation and avoid scams in the process:

Vet the potential recipient

If you’re looking for a particular type of organization to support, search online for the cause you care about first to verify its integrity and identity. You should also search to make sure there are no associated complaints or scam warnings. 

Use secure payment methods when paying online

If a charity accepts donations online, it makes it easier to give...and to scam people if the organization is not credible. Only pay online via a secure credit card gateway. Using a credit card also makes it easier to cancel the transaction if necessary. 

Beware of common scammer strategies

Many scammers try to get innocent donors to pay in cash, by gift card or by wiring money. NEVER fall for this! Pay only by credit card or check, and be sure to keep your receipts and records for all donations. Check your credit card and bank statements, too, to make sure what was charged or deducted is correct. 

Take your time before committing to a donation

A reputable charity will never rush you into donating. If someone does, consider it a red flag. 

Understand how your donation will be used

If you can’t get clarity on how a charity uses your donation, it’s another red flag. Save your donations for charities that clearly outline the ways your money will help them help others. 

Share scams to help stop them from spreading

The only way to reduce and stop scams is to do your part. Report scams to FTC.gov/complaint. Be sure to contact your state’s charity regulator at nasconet.org, and report to them, too. Share all the information you have, including the name of the organization or fundraiser, phone number and the details that tipped you off that it was a scam. 

Most legitimate nonprofit organizations won’t use tax write-offs as the major incentive

If you’re told that a charitable donation is a benefit because it’s a tax write-off, be suspicious. And if you’re ever unsure about the (legitimate) tax implications of your donation, check with our firm; we’re happy to help you figure it out. 

Seasonal scams are out there—be aware when you care

It’s an unfortunate reality that even at this special time of year, scammers will try to take advantage of those who want to help others. The best protection against these bad actors is awareness—and reporting suspicious activity if you encounter it. Don’t let them divert you from offering support to the valid causes you care about. Be aware, be safe and know that your donation will make someone smile this holiday season!

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