How to spot and avoid online charity scams

Being a victim of an online charity scam is an extremely unpleasant experience because it hurts not only the people who really need the money, but it also makes the person who donated less likely to do so in the future.

So, here are a few tips for you to follow when looking to donate money online, so that you don’t become a victim of scammers.

Don’t click on emails received in your spam box

Spam emails often claim to be from legitimate organizations, but the links they contain are usually malicious. These are usually phishing emails that intend to harvest your personal information.

If an email looks suspicious – do not click on any of the links it may include, especially the ones prompting you to donate money. Also, be wary of any attachments the email may contain as these could also be malicious.

For more information on how to recognize scam emails – visit our blog on the topic.

Be wary of opportunistic websites

What is an opportunistic website you might ask? Well, for example, after Hurricane Katrina a few years ago, a website called katrina.com claimed to be the official destination for online donations for survivors. But it was actually a scam. This goes to show that scammers will take advantage of tragedies and register domain names that sound as legitimate and as close to the cause they are supporting as possible.

Be mindful of what personal details you provide

The process for donating money online is like online shopping – you’d be prompted to a page where you’d be asked to fill in details such as your name, address and provide your bank card details. Never divulge your PIN number, nor any security codes or passwords is a sure sign of fraud.

Make donations through the charity’s official website

If you want to make sure that the charity you want to support is genuine, the best thing to do is to search for its official website. If a domain does not look legitimate, avoid it at any cost. A secure website should always begin with ‘https’ and have a padlock icon in the address bar before https://www.:

Alternatively, you can also make donations through a well-known fundraising site, such as JustGiving in the UK or the tax-efficient Gift Aid.

Check the Give.org website

Give.org is a website by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, which helps donors make informed giving decisions and promotes high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit charitable activities. Give.org allows you to type the name of a charitable organization in a search bar and it will ultimately tell you whether its genuine or fake. The accreditation process looks at 20 different factors such as charity effectiveness, board compensation and program expenses to determine the status of a charity.

Do you have any questions or other tips on how to protect yourself from online charity scam? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us @JustAskGemalto.