TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — ‘Tis the “season of giving,” but unfortunately, some are looking to take advantage of people’s kindness.
On this Giving Tuesday, the Better Business Bureau is warning of scammers targeting online donors. They say the day, which encourages people to give back to those in need, is also a day many schemers try to gain access to funds.
The BBB says online scams have become more common since the pandemic started. People reported 46,575 scams to the BBB. The median amount of money lost was $115. For the first time, people between the ages of 18 to 24 reported the highest losses, meaning people in the 65+ category are no longer the most susceptible to online scams.
In many cases victims don’t realize they’re being scammed out of their hard-earned money.
“Say you give $100 to a charity, there are certain ones were $95 of that is going to make it to the mission. There are other where maybe only $30 of your $100 is making it to the mission. You want to make sure your money is counting,” BBB spokesperson John Zajac told 8 On Your Side.
The BBB has the following tips to help you protect yourself against scammers on Giving Tuesday and throughout the holiday season.
Watch out for name similarities. When charities seek support for the same cause, their names are often similar. Before you give, be sure you have the exact name of the charity to avoid a case of mistaken identity.
Review the website carefully. A responsible charity will include the following facts on its website: its mission and programs, measurable goals, and concrete criteria that describe its achievements. You should also be able to find information on their finances. Keep in mind, the type of work a charity does will affect its costs.
Avoid on-the-spot donation decisions from unfamiliar organizations. The holidays bring a higher frequency of donation requests outside public locations. Don’t succumb to pressure to make an immediate giving decision. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.
Be wary of emotional appeals. Marketers have been known to exploit the holidays to make emotional pleas to donors. Instead of making an impulse decision based on emotion, do some research first to verify that your selected charity operates ethically.
Check with state charity officials. In many states, charities are required to register with the office of the attorney general before soliciting. Checking your state’s appropriate office is an easy way to detect if an organization is legitimate or not. You can find this information on the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) website.
Rely on standards-based evaluations. Charities can demonstrate they are trustworthy by agreeing to in-depth evaluations such as the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. Get free access to charity reports at Give.org.
Research tax status. Don’t assume every organization claiming to do good is a tax-exempt charity. You can check an organization’s tax status with the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search tool. Also, make sure your contribution is tax deductible.
For more information on Giving Tuesday and other giving days, see the cover story of Wise Giving Guide.