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Advisory for Donors on Charity Fraud: International Charity Fraud Awareness Week

Oct 18, 2021

Charity Fraud Awareness Week


(Arlington, VA) BBB Wise Giving Alliance (BBB’s Give.org) is pleased to be an official sponsor of International Charity Fraud Awareness Week which takes place this year from October 18-22. This awareness event represents an international coalition of regulators, law enforcement agencies, charities and nonprofit associations seeking to raise charity fraud awareness. Donors need to be aware of the risks and take steps to keep their donation transactions safe.

Potential Charity Fraud Threats

While the vast majority of charities operate appropriately, there are things donors can do to help avoid potentially questionable solicitations. Keep the following points in mind as you make your giving decisions during the last quarter of the year, the most important time for giving for many charities.

  • Don’t Click the Link or scan a QR code until you verify the source. Due to the pandemic, more charity fundraising is taking place online than in-person. Links and QR codes that appear in emails and social media that claim to direct you to a charity’s website may connect you to a false page to steal your data. Best to visit the charity’s official website on your own.
  • Avoid Mistaken Charity Identity. Look at the name carefully as many charity names sound similar. Sometimes it’s because charities are raising money for the same cause, other times it’s because questionable groups are seeking to confuse you.
  • Watch Out for Excessive Fundraising Pressure. Charities that need your money today, will welcome it tomorrow. Avoid pressure to make an on-the-spot donation decision. This can be a ruse to get you to contribute without checking.

Preventive Measures for Donors

Unfortunately, most donors don’t take the time to check out charities before they give. That one step can help contributors avoid questionable appeals and give with greater confidence. Here are three ways to check a charity before you contribute.

  • Visit the Charity’s Website. (a) See if the charity’s website provides easy access to the type of information you would find in an annual report: a statement about their mission, a summary of program accomplishments, a board roster, and a financial summary. (b) Also, look for a copy or a link to the group’s latest financial report with the IRS: the Form 990. (c) Check out the charity website’s privacy policy. As called for in BBB Charity Standard 18, charity websites should have a clear, prominent and easily accessible privacy policy on its website that covers notice, access, choice and security. For additional implementation explanations, see the BBB Charity Standards. (d) If you decide to contribute, consider doing it online through the charity’s own website, to put your donation to work more quickly.
  • Verify Government Registration. About 40 of the 50 states in the U.S. require charities to register with the attorney general’s office or secretary of state. You can verify an organization’s charitable tax exempt status at this IRS link. In Canada, check with the Canada Revenue Agency.
  • Check for BBB Charity Accreditation. Visit charity reports on Give.org to verify if the organization meets the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability (i.e., a BBB Accredited Charity.) There is no charge to charities for accreditation.

How to Report Charity Fraud

Everyone is susceptible to fraud and cybercrime, if you believe you have been the victim of a fraudulent charity solicitation, there are several things you can do to help yourself and others.

  • Keep track of the facts. Take down the exact name of the charity and the circumstances of the appeal whether it took place online or over the phone.
  • Consider posting to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker) to help warn others by reporting what you know.

ABOUT BBB WISE GIVING ALLIANCE: BBB Wise Giving Alliance (BBB’s Give.org) is a standards-based charity evaluator that seeks to verify the trustworthiness of nationally soliciting charities by completing rigorous evaluations based on 20 holistic standards that address charity governance, results reporting, finances, fundraising, appeal accuracy and other issues. National charity reports are produced by BBB’s Give.org and local charity reports are produced by local Better Business Bureaus – all reports are available at Give.org.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands, and charities they can trust. In 2020, people turned to BBB more than 220 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. The International Association of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

MEDIA CONTACTS: For more information, journalists should contact Bennett Weiner at bweiner@give.org