Give back with a plan to avoid charity scams

For many of us, the holiday season is a time for cheerful giving. But charity scammers ruin the mood by trying to cash in on your goodwill. If youíre supporting a charitable cause this winter, make a donation plan that includes spotting and avoiding scams.

Charitable giving goes up near the end of the year, and scammers know it. Your year-end giving has the best chance of reaching the organizations you want to reach ó and not scammers ó when you:
  • Check out a charity before you give. Most organizations use heart-warming messages to inspire you to give. But scammers might do that too. So before you donate to a charity, check them out on Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or Candid. If you find anything that worries you about the organization, find another way to give to the cause.
  • Ask how much of your donation will go to the charity. If you donate through an online platform, the platform or another organization may keep part of the money as a fee before sending the rest to your chosen charity. That information should be clear and easy to find on the platformís website. If itís not, consider donating directly to the charity instead.
  • Donít rush. Scammers pressure you to give right away. They donít want you to have time to research their claims or think them through. Honest charities always need your donations ó but they wonít rush you into donating immediately.
  • Pay by credit card. Itís your safest bet. Scammers often ask you to wire money through companies like Western Union and Money Gram or buy gift cards. Or they might insist that you pay by cryptocurrency. If someone says itís the only way for you to donate, you know itís a scam.
If you spot a charity scam, tell the FTC at and your state charity regulator at


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