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A person may think he or she is donating to a good cause, but, in actuality, only a small fraction of his or her charitable donation may go on to do any good. Of course, not all charities work this way, and most don’t, but many criminals tend to take advantage of those that are attempting to be generous. That is why it pays to exercise caution.


As such, here are a few ways in which one can avoid getting ripped off by phony charities:


Research Your Charity


If you are looking for a charity to donate to, simply get online and search for terms that reflect what matters to you. Look up “drug addiction” or “autism” and combine it with the phrase “highest-rated charities.”


That said, you should never donate to a charity that you don’t have any background on. Online or in the “real” world, try to find a listing of the board of directors and a copy of its mission statement. You can even cross-reference the charities you find against the IRS website to check for tax-exempt status, a true sign of a recognized charity.


Lastly, google the name of each organization along with words like “complaint,” “scam,” or “review,” and see what you can find.


Find Accurate Contact Information


Always be sure that you have the current information to contact the charity with, if necessary. A mailing address, phone number, and a working email address should be available to you. As a matter of fact, the mailing address should be a physical location rather than a post office box. Don’t ever assume that a charity is legitimate simply because it has a well-put-together website or a deluge of printed literature.


Leave a Paper Trail


Legitimate charities would never ask you to wire money or donate in cash exclusively, though they may be options. A real organization would never solicit gift cards, either. The best way to check out an actual charity is by offering to pay with a check or credit card without getting any arguments. After all, such donations can later be traced from your statements if there is an issue. It is also best to have statements to keep track of gifts for tax purposes in the future.


Be Aware of Classic Scams and Tricks


Scammers and tricksters are notorious for rushing donors into making contributions without giving much information outside of a vague sob story. They also use names that are quite similar to established charities and may even call from local numbers, though they are actually out of the area. So, do your homework and keep your eyes wide open.


In conclusion, when you give from your heart, you want that donation to matter. Keep abridged of current scams and conduct your research so you will know full well that your money will be used for good.