Tis the season of giving, but not every charity asking for a donation has good intentions—or exists at all. The Merrimack wants to remind you to be careful choosing a charity and disclosing your personal and financial information.
A quick Google search can tell you a lot. Look for background information on the charity, particularly for any of these red flags:
- Do they show up in any scam warnings?
- Are they local?
- When were they established?
- Is their website a .org or a .com? Most legitimate charities use a .org.
- Is their website riddled with spelling and grammatical errors or look unprofessional?
Be on the lookout for organizations with copycat names or names similar to reputable organizations, but are just slightly off in spelling or words used. Additionally, you can review the charity by searching them through the Better Business Bureau, give.org, charitynavigator.org or charitywatch.org.
Still not sure if the charity is legitimate? Here are some other ways to protect yourself:
- Never pay by gift card or wire transfer—once that money is sent, it’s gone. Credit cards are a safe way to donate.
- After donating, check your account statements for unauthorized charges.
- Don’t feel pressured into giving. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to keep you from thinking the situation through.
- If you’ve received a call, text or email requesting a donation, verify the person who is contacting you by calling the charity directly.
- Don’t click on links sent via text or email – or website and social media ads.
- When in doubt, stick to well-known charities or local nonprofits.
If you are a Merrimack customer and are concerned your personal or financial information was compromised, please call us directly at 603.225.2793.