How to Avoid Charity Scams During Times of Tragedy

Monday, October 3, 2022

When a natural disaster devastates an area, our first instinct is often to ask, “What can I do to help?” With so many people eager to provide aid with monetary donations, it’s all to easy for scammers to take advantage.

You work hard for your money and are trying to make a difference, so it’s important to be careful when vetting organizations for your donation.

Below are some tips for avoiding scammers from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office.

  • Ensure that a charity is registered by searching Charity Navigator or sticking to established, well-known organizations.
  • Carefully check the charity’s name and review how contributions will be used.
  • Do not provide banking or other personal information to unsolicited callers or in emails on behalf of a charity.
  • Be wary of crowdfunding campaigns created by unknown individuals.

The Federal Trade Commission also recommends thoroughly researching a charity through Charity Navigator, CharityWatch or the BBB Wise Giving Alliance before donating. Other FTC tips include only donating to charities you know and trust, being cautious of individuals on crowdfunding sites, and paying only by credit card (which offers more protections) or by check. Scammers often ask individuals to donate with cash, gift card, cryptocurrency or by wiring money, all of which are red flags.

Tricks that scammers use to take money from unsuspecting donors include the following.

  • Rush you into making a donation. Make sure to take the time to do your research.
  • Thank you for a donation you ever made to get you to pay them.
  • Change caller ID to make a call look like it’s coming from a local area code.
  • Use names that sound like the names of real charities. This is one reason it pays to do some research before giving.
  • Make vague and sentimental claims but give no specifics about how your donation will be used.
  • Bogus organizations may claim that your donation is tax-deductible when it is not.
  • Guaranteeing sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a donation. This is not only a scam; it’s illegal.

It’s important to report a charity scam if you run across one so it can be investigated and shut down. Report scams to or through the Florida Attorney General’s Office at or by calling 866-9NO-SCAM.

McCoy FCU 10/3/2022