By Rachel Newman
It’s official. I
am once again a far cry from my original budget for this holiday season. It’s only December 1st and I am
already wrapping, online shopping and in a non-stop brainstorm to bring the
best gifts to my family this year. I
can’t help it. I’m a bit of a fanatic; a fanatic that tells her family
affectionately each year that she is “bringing it, so be prepared.”
I don’t think I am alone though. The holidays are a time that we can all go a
little crazy, and over-extend ourselves all in the name of jolly
generosity. For those who don’t know,
generosity, much like food eaten off a toothpick, is guilt-free. This generous spirit that most of us embody in
the final months of the year can be taken advantage of though.
Each year, your Better Business Bureau is flooded in
November and December with calls and emails asking about the legitimacy of
charities. The holidays are the perfect
time of year for scammers to come out of the woodwork pretending to be
soliciting for a good cause. We all want
to give back and, much of the time, we have the inclination to give back to the
charity that is easiest and provides the most immediate service.
Your BBB asks you to fight this urge. Here are a view tell-tale signs you may be
dealing with a scam charity, and some tips to keep your money in your hands or
the hands of a deserving charity.
let the charity choose you. It may seem perfectly convenient to
give to a charity that knocks on your door, calls your phone or approaches you
while you’re out and about, but this is exactly the sentiment that scammers
prey upon. Choose to whom you give your
money. It may take a little more time
and effort, but giving feels better when you know your money is in the hands of
someone who will use it for good deeds.
Beware of lookalike charities. Many scammers will develop a fake name
for their charity that sounds remarkably like a legitimate charity. Always do your research before giving money,
and you won’t be duped.
Beware of contribution collectors. If
a charity representative offers to pick up a donation from your home, or from
under the mat on your front porch, that is a red-flag. Don’t leave money out
for a random person to pick up.
get pressured. Legitimate charities will still want your
money tomorrow. Any time you are in a
high pressure situation with a charity, who is reasoning that they need your
money today, just repeat those words to yourself. High-pressure sales tactics, charity and
otherwise, are usually a strong indicator that the salesman or solicitor may
not be on the up-and-up.
against your instincts and be a skeptic. It’s difficult
during the holiday season, but you should enter into conversations with
charities with a healthy amount of skepticism. Ask questions like: “How much of
my contribution goes directly to those in-need?”
ahold of your heart strings. Don’t get sweet-talked (or
in this case sad-talked). There are a lot of sad stories in the world, but just
because someone feeds you a line about necessity doesn’t mean it’s the right
charity for you to donate to. Follow your head, not your heart.
For more information about charities, contact
your BBB. For information about how to give wisely this holiday season, consult the BBB’s Wise
Giving Guide. It’s a one-stop-shop for all of your charity questions.