How To Spot A Charity Scam

by DCU |

Are they a 501(c )(3) organization?

A 501(c )(3) organization is a charitable organization that allows for federal tax exemption of nonprofit organizations, specifically those that are considered public charities, private foundations, or private operating foundations. These types of organizations will have an EIN number assigned by the IRS. When asked to donate, ask the charity what their EIN number is. If they don’t have one, or can’t show you paperwork that was newly filed for an EIN number, then you probably shouldn’t donate. If they give you an EIN, plug it into your search engine to double check its legitimacy. 

Watch for name confusion

Be alert to questionable groups seeking to confuse donors with names that sound familiar to charities you may know.

What are the organization’s mission, goals, and history?

If a charity cannot answer these questions, consider giving elsewhere. You want your donation to go far and support an organization you care about. A charitable organization should take time to answer your questions, because your donation should be valuable to them, so they should spend time building a relationship with you. If the fundraiser who contacts you won’t or can’t answer these questions, leads you in a circle, or tries to pass off the questions as unimportant, your donation would be better served somewhere else.

Google it

Look at the charity’s website to check out their work. After storms or disasters, individuals are likely to set up fake websites claiming to be a charity. Make sure you can find the organization’s EIN number somewhere on their site or donation page to know that your money is going to a reputable place. Most organizations also have a .org rather than a .com.

Resist pressure to give on the spot

Don’t give in to excessive pressure on the phone to make an immediate donation – if it is a real charitable organization, they’ll give you time to do your research and make an informed decision.


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