Scam Prevention - Charitable Contributions

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Navigating Charitable Contributions: A Q+A session

Giving to charity can have an incredible impact on the lives of so many. But how can you feel comfortable that your donation is going to a verified and reputable organization?

The best place to start in the charitable giving search is online. Start by researching the causes you are interested in supporting. Once you have found a specific organization you may be interested in contributing to, research the charity’s name with the terms “review,” “rating,” fraud,” “complaint,” or “scam.” This can help in your research for understanding the reputation of the charitable organization.

The next step is to dive into the charity you have chosen. Begin with the website to learn more about the details associated with their cause, including how much of your donation will go directly to the programs that support the cause. You can also use reputable tools such as the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, and Charity Watch, to learn more about the charity. In addition to these resources, you can find out if the charity is registered with the state regulator through the National Association of State Charity Officials.

You can also confirm that your donation is tax deductible by using the Tax Exempt Organization Search tool to make sure the organization is registered with the IRS and eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.

Q: Is it safe to donate to an organization who asks for a contribution over the phone?

A: Not all calls made for charitable contributions are a scam, but it is very important to perform some due diligence before you donate. Remember, you are not obligated to make a contribution at that moment, and you can take some time to do your research before making that decision.

Pre-Research Questions:

What is the charity’s exact name, web address, and mailing address?

How much of my donation will go directly to the program I want to help?

Are you raising money for a charity or a Political Action Committee (PAC)?*

Will my donation be tax deductible?

Things to keep an eye out for:

Charity fundraising calls can only be made between 8am and 9pm.

They have to tell you the name of the charity and the reason for their call.

They cannot use robocalls or pre-recorded messages to reach you and they must give you a way to opt-out of future calls.

They need to tell the truth about the charity, the mission of the charity, if your donation is tax deductible, how the donation will be used, and if the charity has an affiliation with the government.

Q: I’ve done my research and I’m ready to make a donation. How do I make sure I’m sending money the right way?

A: Once you have concluded your research and chosen a charity, here are tips for safely making a contribution:

Safety Tips:

Never pay with wire transfers or gift cards. This is the first sign of a scam. If someone asks you to pay using these methods, STOP. Scammers request these methods because the are difficult to track.

Don’t give out secure information. Remember that fundraising contributions don’t require highly secure information such as your social security or bank account numbers.

Never donate with cryptocurrency. If you are asked to contribute with cryptocurrency, most likely you are being scammed.

If you are making a payment through a website, confirm that the charity is a legitimate organization and that the website is secure. You can verify this if the web address starts with “https://.” If you see this, then the site is secure and information is encrypted and transmitted securely. However, just because the site shows it is secure, the website may not always be legitimate. Make sure you use the previously listed resources to do your research before making a payment online.

Once you have made your donation, keep a record and monitor your bank account and credit card statements. You’ll want to confirm that you were charged the correct amount and that you have not been signed up for recurring donations. Additionally, for tax purposes you will need a receipt of your donation, so be sure to get this from the charity upon payment.

Q: I think I may have been scammed. What should I do now?

A: Scammers are good at what they do, and they are very good at extracting highly personal and secure information. They will sound professional and knowledgeable. They may also give you what appears to be a legitimate web address, a real business address, and charity information that sounds valid. It is not uncommon to fall victim to charity scams, so it is important to know what to do if you have.

Start by making an assessment of the situation:

How did you pay/make your contribution? if you paid with a credit card or debit card, immediately call the company or bank that issued the card to report a fraudulent charge.

Did you send a wire transfer either through your bank or a company like Western Union? Contact your bank or the wire transfer company to report a fraudulent transfer.

Did you pay with a gift card? Contact the company who issued the gift card to report the scam.`

Did you pay with cryptocurrency? Contact the company from which you transferred the currency to report a fraudulent transaction.

Did you pay with cash? You can attempt to track your payment through the U.S. Postal Inspection Service or, if you sent money through a different service, contact the company to try and track the payment.

Did you give your social security number or a username and password to any type of personal accounts? Start by visiting to see what the next steps are. If you gave out a username and password, immediately change the login information to a new username/password that is strong. If you have used the same password elsewhere, be sure to change it there as well.

Prevention Resources


REMEMBER: if you are ever suspicious of any situation, please call us. We are eager to help you, especially when it comes to your security.

What to do if you suspect a scam or if you’re the victim of a scam:

IMMEDIATELY contact your financial advisor or contact Schwab Alliance at (800) 515-2157

Learn more about scams:

According to the FTC, the phone is the most common contact method for scammers.

Scammers cheat seniors out of approximately $2.9 billion annually, according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

In the United States, one in 10 adults falls victim to a scam or fraud every year, according to the FTC.