How to protect your accounts from charity scams

By Sabrina Karl

Giving to help others is a noble gesture. But unfortunately, there are scammers out there striving to turn fake charitable asks into collections of bank account numbers and other personal information.


Charities are important to our society and helping fund their missions is not something to shy away from. But it’s smart to ensure the donation you’re considering will go to a legitimate organization rather than a fraudster looking to siphon money out of your bank account.


Fraudulent charity requests often purport to provide disaster relief or support veterans, police officers, or fire fighters. But when any kind of solicitation comes directly to you, especially by telephone, be alert and do your homework.


The number one rule is to never provide your social security number, your date of birth, or your bank account number to anyone contacting you for a donation. Also pay close attention to the charity’s name, as some criminals will closely mimic the name of a well-known charity to trick you into thinking they’re calling from an organization you’re familiar with.


The scammer’s goal is obviously to collect a donation that goes right into their pocket. But even worse is the potential for them to keep cheating you if they’ve successfully collected your banking information. Once a fraudster has your account number, the only way to fully protect yourself from future unauthorized withdrawals is to close the account.


If the cause being promoted interests you, do your own research to identify legitimate charities doing work you want to support. Then donate by credit card through the official ways they provide on their website.


In any case, whether you give by debit, credit, or check, monitor your statements carefully to ensure you’ve only been charged the amount you approved, and that unauthorized recurring donations aren’t later going through.