Beware of Charity Scams

Tragedies like earthquakes and wildfires can bring out the best in people, with many seeking to help victims with financial donations. Unfortunately, this also provides scammers with opportunities to take advantage. Consider taking steps to protect yourself from charity fraud and ensure that your donation goes to those who need it.

  • Check your charity’s rating with the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.
  • Other sources such as Charity Navigator and CharityWatch can provide information about how specific charities operate and how they use their donations.
  • Beware of telephone solicitations. Avoid providing credit card numbers or other personal information to unknown callers. Don’t rely on caller ID as scammers can make calls look like they come from specific organizations.
  • Avoid donating by wire transfer, cash, gift card, or virtual currency. Instructions to use payment methods like these are red flags of a scam. Pay instead by credit card or check.
  • Watch out for donation requests posted to social media that contain sentimental pleas but provide few details about the organization. Don’t assume the solicitation is legitimate just because it was shared by a friend.
  • Look up the charity using the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search to see if your donation may be tax deductible.

Report possible charity scams to:

  • The FTC at
  • The District Attorney’s Office Consumer Protection Unit
  • The California Department of Justice’s Charity Complaint site

Posted on Oct 6, 2021