The Coronavirus crisis has brought out the best and worst of human nature. The best: charities across the country are stepping up and many people are donating what they can. The worst: opportunistic scammers are using fake appeals or sham charities to swindle donations from good-hearted people.
No one wants their Coronavirus donation to go to a scammer, so before you give, do some research.
- Search online for the charity’s name and the words “scam” or “fraud.”
Review ratings of the charity by these organizations.
Check the charity’s registration status with your local charity regulator. Are they registered to take donations in your state?
Here are other things you can do to make sure a scammer is not taking advantage of your generosity:
- Donate using a credit card. It’s the safest way to donate. Never donate by giving out gift card numbers or using a wire transfer. If someone asks you to donate that way, you can be sure it’s a scam.
- Double check the name of the organization. Many fake charities try to trick you by using names similar to those of well-known organizations, but with one word different or a misspelled.
- Ask lots of questions. What’s the charity’s website, address, and mission? How much of my donation will go to the program I want to help? How many people does the charity help, and how? If helping your community is important to you, ask how the charity spends money in your area. If you get vague answers, find another way to help.
Confirm that your donation will be tax deductible, if that’s important to you. Use the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search to check. Know that donations to individuals are not tax deductible.
- Don’t assume a donation request on social media is legitimate just because a friend liked it or shared it. Do your own research. Call your friends or contact them offline to ask them about the post they shared.
The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.
- We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
- We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
- We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
- We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.