16 WebsiteCompass Beyond the Basics According to Giving USA, U.S. residents donated a record $471 billion to charities in 2020. Because we have so many kindhearted and generous people in this country, criminals know that charity scams can be a lucrative way to make money. DonateWisely and Avoid Scams Learn to distinguish between legitimate charities and fraudulent ones These scams can look and sound like a message from a legitimate charity and may come in the form of a phone call, email, or door-to-door solicitation. Whatever the approach, the goal is the same —to convince you to give them money (and possibly personal information for use in identity theft). Watch for Warning Signs Charity scammers tend to draw from the same “bag of tricks.” If you receive a charity request with one or more of these warning signs, it’s almost certainly a scam: • Pressure to give immediately. A legitimate charity will welcome your donation whenever you choose to make it. If you’re being pushed to donate RIGHT NOW, or before a time limit runs out, be skeptical. • Being thanked for a donation you never made. Making you think you’re a past contributor to the cause is a common trick unscrupulous fundraisers use to establish legitimacy and lower your resistance. If you don’t remember supporting the charity in the past, it’s probably a fraudulent organization. • A request for certain payment methods. Scammers often ask for donations in cash or by gift card, money transfer tools like CashApp, or wire transfer. Why? These forms of payment are difficult to trace. • A request for personal or financial information. Legitimate charities won’t ask for your Social Security number, birth date, or banking information. • Sweepstakes promises. It’s illegal for an organization to guarantee you sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a donation.