Protect Yourself from Fraudulent Charities

Charitable donations are a great way to contribute to a cause you care about in your community Donating takes very little time and allows people who know the cause very well to properly allocate those funds to foster a better future. Unfortunately, not all charities are created equal and some are looking out more for themselves than the cause they claim to be working for.

We want to protect your hard-earned money and make sure bad actors don’t take advantage of your charitable ways. When you donate to a charity, you are a consumer essentially purchasing progress. So, what are some factors you should consider before donating?

They reach out to you unsolicited

This can be a red flag right off the bat. Obviously, charities have to do some legwork to solicit donations, but if you’re receiving emails claiming to be from charities asking you for donations, be wary.

Email scams are some of the most common scams right now, and some people will target those willing to give with emails about supporting allegedly important causes. You should be sure to do your own research and never click on a link you receive in an email unless you’re confident. An even better way to approach this would be to do your research and then go to the website yourself instead of donating through provided links.

Questionable requests

Charities shouldn’t need much from you in order to accept a donation. If a charity asks too many questions they’re likely going to turn away many donors, so they will generally make it easy for potential donors.

If you ever feel like you’re being asked to give too much personal information this is a red flag. If you’re ever asked to provide a social security number then you should immediately find another cause.

Another questionable request can be if you’re required to give a certain amount or if you’re required to give through gift cards. Many charities will give you “quick” amounts you can choose from but will also give you the option to donate any amount you please. Gift cards are harder to trace and can be easy ways to commit fraud for organizations.

How much of your money is actually going to the cause?

You want your money to actually go toward the cause, so a little research can show you where the money goes. Charities need to take care of operating costs which can include the salaries of people who run the charity and day-to-day office or travel expenses.

Most charities will list right on their website what percentage of your donation goes to the cause. If you’re unable to find that information and you can’t get that answer by calling the organization, you should reconsider donating to them. Some organizations are a front for consumer fraud and aim to take advantage of causes people care about.

Is the charity operating locally?

There are a lot of well-known charities that operate at the national level. These organizations might be the first ones you think of when you look to donate, but if you want to see a change in your community instead of a more generic, location-less target you should first verify an organization that actually operates near you.

If an organization doesn’t have operations near you but has locations and offices all over that might be a sign your location has strong consumer protection laws scaring them off.

Will they let you get hands-on?

A great way to get to know an organization before donating is to look for volunteer opportunities with them. If you reach out and find the organization is wishy-washy about letting you get directly involved that could be a red flag.

Some charities operate entirely as financial operations and redirect donations to the right place. There is nothing wrong with this, but you should be wary of an organization that claims to be out in the community but refuses to let members of the community get involved.

Do they have a history of consumer fraud?

Sometimes charity organizations can get caught stealing consumers’ money and still be allowed to accept additional donations. You can look at charity watchdog organizations to find out more about previous misdeeds. Your best bet is to avoid any organization that previously violated consumer rights, because if they found a way to do it before they may try to do it again.

If you made a donation recently and are suddenly seeing fraudulent charges on your account, Stolen Asset Recovery Network has your back. We work hard to protect and recover the hard work of individuals who are being defrauded. Find a member near you and our alliance of global law firms will get to work on your case.

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STARNet, which is short for Stolen Asset Recovery Network, is a global alliance of independent law firms created to provide financial institutions and governments with multi-disciplinary services across countries and jurisdictions for locating, freezing, and ultimately recovering stolen assets related to cyber heists, fraud or corruption.

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