When Donating to Charity, Don’t Send A Money Transfer to An Individual

The holidays bring out the best in people, and many charities count on end-of-year generosity from donors to meet the needs of those less fortunate.   Sadly, scammers know this and prey on unsuspecting consumers who don’t do their homework when giving money to charities.

Scammers solicit by phone and email, or post links to fraudulent charities on social media sites with names similar to those of legitimate organizations.  In some cases, scammers even pose as legitimate charities, in one variation of the so-called imposter scam.

Western Union and Better Business Bureau launched BBB Scam Stopper to help consumers reduce their chances of becoming a victim of common scams.

Here are tips to consider when giving money to charities:

  • It’s best always to donate to a charity directly after confirming its legitimacy – rather than giving in response to a phone call or by clicking an email link.
  • Never send a money transfer to an individual for a charity.  Western Union does accept donations for charities, but the money transfer must be sent to the organization, not to an individual.
  • Never share banking or credit card information with a person or business you don’t actually know.
  • Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in texts or emails. These may take you to a lookalike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information or to click on something that downloads harmful malware into your computer.

A red flag is if you’re pressured to donate immediately.  Reputable charities will accept your contributions anytime so if you are being pressured, report it to the Better Business Bureau or to state and local authorities.

For more information visit westernunion.com/stopfraud or, to test your knowledge of scams, take the Fraud Quiz: westernunion.com/fraudquiz.

To learn more about which charities meet BBB Wise Giving Alliance standards, go to give.org.

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About Shelley Bernhardt

Shelley Bernhardt is the Director of Consumer Protection at Western Union, a BBB Accredited Business and National Partner. She is responsible for External Stakeholder Outreach and Consumer Fraud Awareness and Education for Western Union Agents and consumers. Shelley serves on advisory boards for the National Adult Protective Services Association, the National Consumers League LifeSmarts program and Call for Action.