Donate generously on Giving Tuesday, but watch out for scams

Deborah Salmi, 2 December 2014

Donate generously on Giving Tuesday, but watch out for scams

#GivingTuesday is a day dedicated to give from the bounty we have received.

GivingTuesday2014

After the shopping free-for-all of Black Friday, the local discoveries of Small Business Saturday, and the online click frenzy of Cyber Monday, people the world over have a day for giving thanks.

On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. ~www.givingtuesday.org

From supporting women’s microfranchises selling solar products in Nicaragua to supplying feed and services to a ranch in Arizona that helps save horses from abuse and neglect to constructing toilets in a school in West Bengal, there are a myriad of opportunities to spread your goodwill and your cash. It’s also an opportunity for cybercrooks to scam those with a generous heart.

What you need to know about charity scams

Charities and fundraising groups use all methods to solicit funds, so you could receive a phone call, a knock at your door, an email, a message via social networking sites, and even a text message on your mobile phone. Before giving your donation, carefully review a charity and ensure it is a trustworthy organization.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers some valuable tips.

    • Watch out for copycats. There may be hundreds of charities seeking support in the same category, and some may use a name that is similar to a better-known, reputable organization. Don’t fall for a case of mistaken identity.
    • Avoid being pressured. Don’t succumb to high-pressure tactics that try to get you to donate immediately. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow just as much as today.
    • Give through a reputable, secure service. If a charity asks for donations in cash, by money wire, or offers to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect the donation immediately, then beware. A genuine charity will give you time and a secure method to make your donation.
    • When in doubt, check them out. The results of a Google or Yahoo search have been known to include bogus phishing sites designed to look like a legitimate charity’s website. Just look up scams around Hurricane Katrina, and you’ll see what I mean. Charity Navigator says,
      • Carefully examine the web address. Most non-profit web addresses end with .org and not .com. Avoid web addresses that end in a series of numbers.
      • Bogus sites often ask for detailed personal information such as your social security number, date of birth, or your bank account and pin information. Be extremely skeptical of these sites as providing this information makes it easy for them to steal your identity.

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