It’s giving season! As the holidays roll around this year, there are plenty of reasons to give back to your community. Americans donated $471.44 billion in 2020, an over 5% increase from 2019. Unfortunately, scammers are well aware of the uptick in charitable donations, and will likely target those altruistic efforts for their own self gain this year. Below are some tips to donate safely this holiday season; remember to be MERRY.
Manually check the URL: Cybercriminals often create websites that mimic legitimate ones to phish for money. Doublecheck URLs and website headers when donating to make sure that the organization’s name is spelled correctly and that there are no discrepancies.
Examine payment methods: It is not suggested to wire money or send cash when making donations. Instead, consider paying via check or online. When donating using a check, make the donation payable to the organization name exactly how they spell it on their website. If you’d like to pay online, ensure that the website is safe by looking at their URL for “https” or a security lock. Generally, it is safest to donate via credit card or check.
Research sites: Check the IRS’ website, along with sites like BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, GiveWell, and GuideStar to learn about how organizations spend their money and which are tax-deductible.
Reject unsolicited requests: Scammers may attempt to access your money via calls, social media links, and emails. If an unfamiliar (or familiar) organization is calling or emailing you and you would like to donate, go directly to their website to do so safely.
Your donation, your decision: When donating online, you often have the choice to donate directly through the organization’s page or through a convenient portal that allows you to browse other charities. If you opt for the latter, doublecheck that your money is going to the charity you want to give to and how long processing will take. You may also want to read the fine print to determine if there are additional fees involved when using the portal and if/how the third party shares your personal information with the charitable organization.
With all that being said, don’t let the fear of scammers deter you from giving to organizations that positively impact your community and others! Use our tips and be MERRY when donating this holiday season. If you’d like to talk to someone about online safety, you can reach us at email@example.com or call us at (703) 790-0400.
P.S. If you’re also interested in shopping safely online this holiday season, check out our blog on that topic!