One of the most inherent aspects of human nature is the desire to give when other humans, or beings, are in need. This is a basic facet of human behavior and one that is admirable. Unfortunately, scammers prey upon noble intentions with ways to line their own pockets.
Experts know that anyone can be a victim, no matter how cautious you are. Trained internet criminals and scammers know how to access your information, and then use it against you.
Some common ways fraudsters operate under the guise of charity include:
Pretending to be associated with a well-known organization and then asking for donations, either by phone, mail, email or a website that looks legitimate.
Pretending to be a new charity formed for a very specific cause, like natural disaster relief, that solicits funds to help people that never see a cent. Most recently, fraudsters took advantage of the landslide disaster in Oslo to solicit funds from people who wanted to help. This is common following every disaster though, so consumers should beware.
Selling and distributing products with a promise that a certain part of the proceeds will benefit a good cause, and then keeping all the profits for themselves.
So what can consumers do to be sure that their hard-earned cash is indeed going to a cause that will make a difference? Follow these suggestions for safe charitable giving:
Never give in the moment. When you receive a call or knock on the door about charitable giving, take the time to do your research first. You can visit sites like CharityWatch.org or Give.com, a site hosted by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, and double check that your money is truly going to a cause you support. If an organization does not want to provide the proper contact information and documentation to support your donation, it is probably a place you do not want to donate anyway.
Consider staying close to home. There are people all over the world who need assistance, but remember that there are likely people in your own community that could use some help too. Donate money and household items to local organizations that you know will give the resources back to community members. Do not assume that every place that takes donations will use them charitably, though. Find out how the money raised from the sale of the items is spent and who benefits from your donations.
Think rationally. It can be hard to look at charitable giving in a logical, calculated way – particularly if a cause stirs up your emotions. Remember though that scammers count on your emotional response to ensure your commitment of funds. It is perfectly fine to ask for time to consider it before donating and any legitimate charity will be happy to give it to you. For especially large donations, contact an international investigation firm to look into the legitimacy of the charity.
Be proactive. When you have a little bit extra to give, seek out the charities you want to help in advance of them contacting you. This gives you the power to look into their legitimacy and form your own decisions, instead of responding to the suggestions of strangers.
Donate your time. Money is always helpful, but so is manpower. Instead of handing over a check or the money from your wallet, consider volunteering. This will give you a better look at what that organization does so you can feel more at ease with any financial donations down the road.
When you feel you have come across a fraudulent charity, report it to your local law enforcement so that other people do not fall victim to the same scam. Do not be dissuaded from giving to good causes; just take the time to be sure you are truly giving to a worthy one.
If you need help verifying an organization is legitimate and reputable, contact Wymoo International professional private investigators for a free and confidential quote.
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