Exercise caution when donating online this Giving Tuesday: BBB

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is urging anyone who plans on donating to an online charity this Giving Tuesday to exercise caution.

While many organizations have been forced to move online due to COVID-19, it's important to research the organization before hitting the “donate” button, according to the BBB, due to the rise of fake websites, social media accounts, impersonation scams and phishing attacks.

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The BBB is sharing the following tips with donors:

  • Watch out for mistaken identity: When charities seek support for the same cause, their names are often similar. Before you give, be sure you have the exact name of the charity to avoid a case of mistaken identity. Fraud is also a common problem. Scammers have been known to defraud donors by creating websites that impersonate legitimate organizations.
  • Review the website carefully: On any transparent charity website, you will see information about its mission and programs, measurable goals and concrete criteria that describe its achievements. Keep in mind, the type of work a charity does will affect its costs. Before using your credit card, make sure the website is secure and that you review the organization’s privacy policy explaining how they will protect the personal and financial information you share.
  • Avoid on-the-spot donation decisions to unfamiliar organizations: Typically, the holidays bring a higher frequency of donation requests. Don’t succumb to pressure to make an immediate giving decision. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.
  • Be wary of overly-emotional appeals: If an appeal brings tears to your eyes, make sure it is also clear about what the charity intends to do to address the issues. Always research to verify that your selected charity operates ethically.
  • Check that they have a registered charity status: Do not assume that every organization claiming to do good is a registered charity. Visit BBB’s give.org or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to confirm if the organization is a registered Canadian charity under the Income Tax Act. You should see the charity’s registration number on their website. Also, find out if you will receive a receipt for your donation.
  • Exercise caution on crowdfunding sites: These include sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter. Carefully consider the site’s terms and procedures to find out if posts are reviewed for scams. Make sure the posts clearly describe the intended use for funds, and what processing fees may be subtracted by the site when the donations are made. Look past the attention-grabbing photos and identify whether the contributions are being collected for distribution to another organization. If so, consider cutting out the middle man and make a direct donation to the designated organization on their website. This way, you know your donation is going right where you intended.
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