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8 Ways to Avoid Donation Scams

Here’s how you can make sure you give your donations to the right people.

| November 14, 2013

8 Ways to Avoid Donation Scams

8 Ways to Avoid Donation Scams

In this climate of heroes, many individuals, corporations, and even other nations have come together to help this nation in its time of need. We have seen, through many different stories, how our faith in humanity can easily be restored.

Unfortunately, not everyone shares the same idealism; instead, they see this calamity as an opportunity to make a quick buck at the expense of people who genuinely need help. By all means, donate and help out, and don’t let this list dissuade you one bit. Just make sure that you do everything within your power to make your donation fall into the right hands.

With much credit to Interaksyon and SCAMWatch for most of this list, here are 8 things you need to keep in mind before you part with your hard-earned money to help.

8. Text Donation Charities Rarely (If Ever) Text You from Out of the Blue

8. Text Donation Charities Rarely (If Ever) Text You from Out of the Blue

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If you’ve ever gotten messages asking for donations from your phone, you will notice that some of them come from your mobile service provider. Most legitimate charities easily get their message through via official channels through the network providers. Scammers will typically message you for help through prepaid SIM cards.

Rule of thumb: If you see an unidentified number texting you, asking for donations, no matter how urgent it sounds, it’s probably not for real.

7. Not All Fundraisers are Created Equal

7. Not All Fundraisers are Created Equal

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Plenty of fundraisers are being conducted right now. Most of them will be very straight-up about how much of the sales or profits will be going to charity. Others won’t be as circumspect. For all you know, they could be raising funds only to line their own pockets. Wrestler’s Rescue, for example, has been accused of conducting fundraisers to “aid” professional wrestlers in need but said wrestlers never even hear about the fundraiser happening, much less see a cent of this aid go to them.

Rule of thumb: If the organizer of the fundraiser isn’t willing to provide proper documentation of the donations they collect, and if they ask checks to be made out in their name rather than their supposed charity or NGO of choice, then don’t bother.

6. Check the Appropriate When Possible

6. Check the Appropriate When Possible

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During the height of Ondoy four years ago, there were countless scams perpetrated using the name of the DSWD, to the point that they had to actively warn people about them. Things aren’t so different today.

Rule of thumb: Just as an example, if someone claims to be representing the DSWD and you have second thoughts about them, you can call 232-9507 or 232-9505 to verify. The same would go for any big fundraiser that claims to be affiliated with a big agency, whether it’s the DSWD, the Red Cross, or anything else in between.

5. Sob Stories Aren’t Enough Reason to Loosen the Purse Strings

5. Sob Stories Aren’t Enough Reason to Loosen the Purse Strings

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Certainly, it’s so sad when a girl claims to have cancer and needs help as she is dealing with her dying days. But it’s a lot sadder when, after receiving about $ 17,000, she apparently never even had it. There will be a lot of people who will post on your Facebook wall, asking for donations, and posting a heartbreaking picture or two. You will find that a lot of these pictures aren’t even from the same calamity they claim to be depicting, but a picture recycled from a previous tragedy, and one certainly not represented by the people asking for your money now.

Rule of thumb: You’re already online, so go check snopes.com as your first line of defense against “viral” drives hinging on a sob story. This goes double for a charity drive by way of email.

4. There are Already So Many Existing Charitable Organizations. Prioritize Them.

4. There are Already So Many Existing Charitable Organizations. Prioritize Them.

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There will be a lot of fly-by-night “charities” crawling out of the woodwork asking for donations to help the people in need. This completely ignores the fact that organizations like the Red Cross, the Red Crescent, and even large corporate entities like Apple and Jollibee, just to name a few, are around to help, so why go for a hypothetical “new” NGO like the (non-existent) Justice for Leyte Nationalists, especially with that most unfortunate acronym?

Rule of thumb: Now is not the time to make “obscure” choices. Go for a charity or an NGO that already has a track record.

3. There are Also Many Scammers Pretending to be a Charitable Organization You Know and Trust

3. There are Also Many Scammers Pretending to be a Charitable Organization You Know and Trust

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Just because a site claims to be affiliated with the Red Cross doesn’t mean they are. There are lots of websites that can fool people into thinking they’re a legit organization, when in reality, they are not. Just a simple misspelling of a URL could fool those who don’t look closely enough, so you should be aware that yes, not everything you see on the internet is true.

Rule of thumb: If you see a website and have doubts, do a Google search and see if it still turns up.

2. Charities Need Your Money and Donations – Not Your Social Security Number

2. Charities Need Your Money and Donations - Not Your Social Security Number

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Identity theft is rampant in times like these, when well-meaning people unwittingly give away more personal information than is required to give a donation. There’s no telling what they can do with you next after they manage to get vital information like your TIN or SSS number from you. Charities do not do that, simply because they don’t need it. At all.

Rule of thumb: Don’t give out more information than you have to. You can even be a better Samaritan and make your donation anonymously.

1. The Personal Touch is Still the Best

1. The Personal Touch is Still the Best

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Via ifrc.org

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Go to the charity/NGO yourself. Hand it to them personally, if you can. Between that and giving your money to some random juan who only claims to have the interests of those afflicted by Yolanda at heart, the more practical course of action should be obvious.

Rule of thumb: Give generously, but wisely.

Do you have other tips on how to avoid donation scams? Please share in the Comments Section below.