Five Tips to Avoid Charitable Giving Scams

October 30, 2020

There's a great need right now to help those who have been victims of natural and other disasters (much less the pandemic). How can you help? Which charitable organizations can you trust? While we’d all like to think every charitable foundation or organization is legitimate, there are some that take advantage of the good among us. Consider the following five tips before you make a donation to a charity: 
 
  1. Don't send cash donations. For security and tax purposes, it’s best to pay by check (made payable to the charity) or online using a credit card.
  2. Understand the difference between “tax exempt” and “tax deductible.” Tax exempt means the charitable foundation or organization doesn’t have to pay taxes. Tax deductible means you may be able to deduct your contribution on your taxes.*
  3. Never send a wire transfer to someone claiming to represent a charity. Many times, scammers will request donations be sent by wire to facilitate your contribution to a cause. But, the reality is, like cash, once you send money via wire, you can’t get it back.
  4. Don’t give anyone your personal financial information unless you’ve initiated the call.  After you’ve done your homework and are ready to contribute to a legitimate charity, go ahead and call or donate online.
  5. Be cautious of charities that arise after current events or natural disasters. Even if legitimate, they may not have the ability to get donations to those in affected areas. If a donation request comes from a group claiming to help your local community, ask a local agency if they’ve heard of them.
Just a reminder that you can safely give to a local non-profit organization here. We've listed many of the local non-profit organizations on this page and have provided a secure way to make a donation. If you do make a donation, please write RETURN THE FAVOR on your check or in the note section of your online donation.  

If you believe you’ve been the victim of a charity scam, it’s important that you file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as soon as possible. Additionally, if someone has made an unauthorized transaction from one of your SCCCU accounts, contact us immediately at 831-425-7708.
 
*Talk to your tax professional for details.

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