READYColorado Blog: Protecting Your Online Holiday Donations

With more and easier access to the internet, the advent of social media, the explosion of crowd funding internet sites and the ability to easily donate to a cause by simply clicking a button or sending a basic text message, it has become even easier than ever to donate to charitable organizations and specific causes.  It also means it is easier than ever to receive a fraudulent request for donations.

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office shares these tips to make sure your donations make it to a credible organization:

  • If you receive an e-mail or text message asking for a donation, confirm that the request is from the charity, and not an imposter, by contacting the charity or visiting its website.
  • Check out the charity before you give to learn more about it through reputable sites such as the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, IRS Select Check, the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, or Charity Navigator.
  • Be cautious of “look-alike” websites. These fraudulent websites will often ask for personal financial information or may download harmful malware into your computer.
  • Watch out for charities with names that sound similar to well-known organizations. Sometimes these sound-alike names are simply intended to confuse donors.
  • Don’t assume that charity recommendations on Facebook, blogs, or other social media have already been vetted. Research the charity yourself.
  • Find out what percentage of your donation will go to the charity and whether you will be charged any fees for making a donation through the fundraising platform website.
  • Find out what the website will do (if anything) with your personal information; be wary of websites that do not provide a privacy policy.
  • Be cautious when considering giving to newly formed charities since they won’t have a track record that you can take into consideration.
  • Be extra vigilant when donating online in the wake of natural disasters or national tragedies. Some charities are formed shortly thereafter and may have the best of intentions; however, an existing charity is more likely to have the sound management and experience to quickly respond to these situations, and it will have a track record which you can review.

Colorado Gives Day is an annual statewide movement to celebrate and increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving. Visit https://www.coloradogives.org/CoGivesDay for more information or to donate.

The blog was written with material from the Colorado Attorney General’s Stop Fraud Colorado program.  You can learn more about Colorado Consumer Protection Month at https://www.stopfraudcolorado.gov/ccpm

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