AARP MI Offers Tips To Spot Holiday Charity Scammers

Lansing, MI - As the season of giving unfolds, AARP reminds Michiganders to be on high alert for charity scams. One-third of all charitable giving happens in December, which makes it prime season for scammers looking to exploit holiday goodwill via sham charities.

According to an AARP poll, charity scams are the most common holiday con with 38 percent of respondents saying they've received a dubious donation request. To protect yourself and your money, AARP offers the following tips:

  • Know the warning signs. A genuine charity won’t pressure you to give and won’t protest if you ask for time to think things over.

  • Confirm the donation is tax-deductible. Only gifts to charities with 501(c)(3) status are potentially tax-deductible. Do a quick check on the IRS website to make sure.

  • Be cautious about crowdfunding. Always take time to scrutinize crowdfunding appeals on GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other similar sites. Scammers have been known to use these sites for bogus appeals, even posting pilfered photos from legitimate causes.

  • Be alert to fake charities that mimic the names and logos of well-known nonprofits. Phonies may inflate their stature by adding “federal” or “national” to their names. To verify the legitimacy of a charity, use sites like CharityNavigator.org or CharityWatch.org.

  • Protect your personal information. Never share your date of birth, bank account number, driver’s license or a Social Security number (not even the last four digits).

  • Protect your donation. If you decide to give a contribution, use a credit card as it’s easier to track misuse and issue protection. Legitimate charities will NEVER ask for gift cards, bank transfers, or cryptocurrency as a form of payment.

For additional information on fraud, visit aarp.org/fraud or call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360.

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