(Graphic | Courtesy of Oregon FBI)
You made it through a COVID Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and now — today — is Giving Tuesday. This movement — started eight years ago to honor generosity in a season that is all-too-often marked by commercialization — is designed to encourage people to do good deeds. The day inspires some to physically help in their community while others mark the day with donations to charities.
This year, in particular, our neighbors and communities can use help like never before. Even in a normal year, the AARP says one-third of all charitable giving happens in December, which makes the next few weeks a prime target for fraudsters. If you choose to donate money, there are a few precautions you should take to ensure your funds are going where you intended:
- Donate to charities you know and trust.
- Never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails, texts or social media posts.
- Verify the legitimacy of any solicitation by contacting the organization directly through a trusted contact number.
- Do your research. Use the Federal Trade Commission’s resources (consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-donate-wisely-and-avoid-charity-scams) to examine the track record of a charity.
- Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to, but not exactly the same as, those of reputable charities.
- Avoid charities that ask for you to pay by cash, gift card, virtual currency or wire transfer.
- Pay by credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
- Know that most legitimate charity websites end in .org rather than .com.
- Make contributions directly, rather than relying on others to make a contribution on your behalf.
With those tips in mind, you can safely bring a little bit of joy to those in need this holiday season.
If you have been victimized by a cyber fraud, be sure to file a report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.