In times of crisis, we often feel hopeless and wonder how we can help those affected. Unfortunately, this is when scammers amp up their efforts to get your money by creating fake charities that look and sound like a legitimate one.
Before you give, here are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to make sure your donation counts and avoid donating to a scam.
- Slow down, do your research
You don’t have to give immediately! Search online for the cause you care about, plus words like “review,” “scam,” or “complaint.” See if others have had good or bad experiences with the charity. Once you have narrowed it down, check out charity watchdog groups like Charity Navigator or CharityWatch to see what they say about the organization.
- How will your donation be spent
Check out the charity’s website. Does it give you details about the programs you want to support? Does it tell you how much of your donation will go directly to those programs? If you can’t find detailed information about a charity’s mission and programs, be suspicious.
- Read the fine print
If you’re donating through an online fundraising platform, your money may not go directly to the charity. In many cases, online fundraising platforms get your money first, take some of it as a fee, then pass on the rest to an individual or charity. Keep in mind, it may take time for the charity to receive the money, so if you’re donating to help people with immediate needs, consider donating in other ways.
How to Pay When You Donate
- Safest way to donate is by credit card or check
- Don’t pay with wire transfers or gift cards
If you’re asked to wire money or buy gift cards, don’t do it! Scammers ask you to pay that way because these payment methods are hard to track.
- If you’re donating online, check the web address
Make sure the webpage where you enter your payment information has “https” in the URL. This means your information is encrypted and transmitted securely.
Once you’ve donated, review your bank account and/or credit card statements to make sure you were only charged the amount you donated. Your generosity can make a difference – just take a few minutes to make sure your donation is going to the right place.
If you’re a Merrimack customer and are concerned your personal or financial information was compromised, please call us directly at 603.225.2793 so we can assist with protecting your accounts and identity.