Beware of Holiday Charity Scams: Expert Tips to Avoid Falling for Them

Protect Yourself from Holiday Charity Scams Expert Tips to Stay Vigilant

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How to Avoid Holiday Charity Scams Expert Tips

Abandoned animals, kids battling cancer, disabled veterans—the heartfelt pitches for charity can pull at your heartstrings and make you want to grab your credit card. But hold on tight to your wallet, because this time of year is prime time for fake charity scammers trying to snatch your hard-earned cash.

Katalin Parti, an assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Tech, specializing in the study of cybercrime, has some invaluable advice on how to differentiate between real charity appeals and fraudulent ones. However, scammers are crafty and know how to build trust, so you have to be on high alert.

“They may call you using a local phone number,” warns Parti. “That sneaky tactic can give you a false sense of security.” Once they have you on the line, they’ll start their expertly designed pitch, playing with your emotions and confusing you with misleading information.

“It will be a good one. It will tug at your heartstrings,” says Parti. “But beware, they will never actually specify how they will help. They might even claim that you’ve donated before and ask you to do it again.”

So how can you quickly determine if it’s a legitimate charity or a scammer? Parti suggests checking databases like the search tool for tax-exempt organizations at the Internal Revenue Service or watchdog groups such as Charity Watch to verify the legitimacy of the organization.

Don’t overlook the name of the charity either. Scammers often give their fraudulent organizations names that closely resemble well-known charities. For instance, they might use a slight variation of a reputable charity’s name, like the American Society for Cancer instead of the American Cancer Society. If it’s a shade different, chances are it’s a scam.

Scammers won’t hesitate to fish for personal information either. While a genuine charity may only ask for your credit card details for a donation, scammers might go further and try to obtain your Social Security number or bank account information. Don’t fall for their tricks—keep your personal information safe!

Here’s a red flag to watch out for: if the caller requests non-credit card forms of donation like cash, gift cards, or cryptocurrency, alarm bells should be ringing in your head. That’s a classic scammer move—don’t take the bait.

And if, by some unfortunate chance, you do fall for a scam, closely monitor your donation to ensure it doesn’t become a recurring one.

Remember, ’tis the season to be cautious. Trust your gut and use these expert tips to avoid becoming a victim of holiday charity scams.

What This Means for You:

The holiday season is a hotbed for fake-charity scams. However, with these simple steps, you can become a savvy donor and avoid getting duped by scammers.


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More information: There’s more on avoiding charity scams at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

SOURCES: – Virginia Tech, news release, Nov. 17, 2023

Hey there conscientious readers! The season of giving is upon us, but be warned—a ho, ho, ho doesn’t guarantee that Santa’s helpers on the phone are genuine charity workers. Nope, some of them could be cunning scammers trying to swipe your dough. But fear not! We’ve got your back with some expert tips from Professor Katalin Parti, the superhero of cybercrime at Virginia Tech.

First things first, scammers are sly devils, lurking behind local phone numbers to give you a false sense of security. Clever, right? Once they’ve got you on the line, they’ll hit you with a pitch so emotionally charged you’ll feel like a tear-jerking movie is playing out right before your eyes. But here’s the catch—they’ll never really say how they plan to help. Sneaky, sneaky!

But hold onto your purse strings, for we have a plan of action. Professor Parti suggests doing a quick fact-check on databases like the IRS’s search tool for tax-exempt organizations or watchdog groups like Charity Watch to expose the scammers’ villainous ways.

Oh, and don’t forget to scrutinize the name of the charity! Those shady scammers love creating faux organizations that sound astonishingly similar to reputable ones. It’s like those fake fashion brands you find at flea markets—so close, but not the real deal. Stay sharp, my friends!

Now, let’s talk personal information. Genuine charities only need your credit card deets for donations. But scammers? They’re thirstier than a desert cactus. They’ll try to reel in your Social Security number or even your passwords. Don’t be a fish caught in their net—keep your info locked up tighter than Fort Knox!

Consider this a warning sign: if the caller asks for non-credit card donations like cash, gift cards, or cryptocurrency, danger is lurking. That’s a flashing red light signaling a scam. No need to panic, just hang up and keep your money safe!

And if you do slip up and fall into their trap, don’t worry! Detective You can still solve the case. Keep an eagle eye on your donation to ensure it doesn’t become a recurring nightmare.

So, dear readers, arm yourselves with these expert tips and outwit those would-be holiday charity scammers. ’Tis the season for giving, but also for outsmarting the Grinches of the world!

Now it’s your turn! Have you ever encountered a charity scam? Share your experiences and let’s help each other avoid these sneaky creatures!