Today there’s a great need to help others who have been victims of natural and other disasters. But, how can you help? Which charitable organizations can you trust? While we’d all like to think every charitable foundation or organization is legitimate, there are some that take advantage of the good among us. You should take the following precautions to make sure your donation benefits the people and organizations you desire to help.
Never send cash donations.
For security and tax purposes, it’s best to pay by check—made payable to the charity—or by credit card.
Understand the difference between tax exempt and tax deductible.
Tax exempt means the charitable foundation or organization does not have to pay taxes. Tax deductible means you may be able to deduct your contribution on your taxes.
Never send a wire transfer to someone claiming to be a charity.
Many times, scammers will request donations be sent by wire to facilitate your contribution to a cause. The reality is, like cash, once you send money via wire, you can’t get it back.
Don’t give someone your personal financial information.
If you’re thinking about donating to a charity, do your homework first—find out as much as you can about the organization. By doing so, you can better avoid scammers who try to take advantage of your generosity. After you’ve done your research and are ready to contribute to a legitimate charity, contact them directly to make your donation.
Be cautious of charities that arise after current events or natural disasters.
Even if legitimate, they may not have the ability to get donations to those in affected areas. If a donation request comes from a group claiming to help your local community, ask a local agency if they’ve heard of them.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a charitable giving scam in any way, it’s important that you file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ftc.gov. Additionally, if someone has made an unauthorized transaction from one of your BancorpSouth accounts, contact us immediately at 888-797-7711.