What Out for Scams
Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Thursday and I hope you are having a beary safe and great week so far. Dab the AIDS Bear and I are starting to pack for this weekend's events so stay tuned for more new pictures soon.
Unfortunately not all people are honest... so you have to be careful of scams out there. Thinking you just scored an amazing deal only to find out you've actually been scammed out of thousands of dollars can be a pretty big buzzkill. No one wants to be taken for a fool, especially when money is involved. Here are nine of the worst scams you can fall for, and tips to protect yourself against them in the future.
Don't let your generosity and kindheartedness make you an easy target. Con artists prey on the charitable, so make sure you know what to look for when giving to a charity. Do your research, know chow to recognize fraud, and follow these tips to donate safely to nonprofit organizations.
Many kind-hearted individuals and businesses make financial donations towards the end of the year, unfortunately, online scam artists count on this and step up their efforts to steal valuable identifying information, load your computer with viruses, and swindle donors through Email solicitation campaigns.
While the intent of this article is to help you avoid being taken in by a con artist, I don't want to discourage anyone from giving simply because there are a few bad apples out there.
Scam artists send out their mass email campaigns asking for charitable donations for a variety of causes. Online scam artists have gotten more sophisticated and are no longer simply asking you to mail them information or offering a hyperlink (usually to a virus or form to input identifying information.) Many scam artists are now taking the time to develop actual "charity" websites in an attempt to convince you that they are real.
Before you make an online donation to any charity you are unfamiliar with check them out. Unfortunately, not all charities are listed in the online IRS database (which, in 2009, was about two years behind in listing charities it has approved for tax exemption status, and, do to a backlog of work, may have even listed charities whose 501(c)(3) status had been rescinded.) If you cannot find the charity online, call the IRS or your state's tax board for the most recent information about whether a charity is a tax-exempt organization.
You can also spot a scam artist by being alert to the following dead giveaways that a charity may not be quite on the up-and-up.
Charities That Ask for Too Much Information Are Scams
Any charity that asks for too much information, including your date of birth, social security number or driver's license information is a scam.
Charities are not required by the IRS or state charity laws to collect this information and they do not need this information to process a donation or issue a tax receipt.
Unsolicited Mass Email Campaigns Are Dead Give Aways
Charities are bound by CAN SPAM Laws - they are not allowed to contact you through purchased mass email lists, and they cannot use web robots to collect Email addresses from public Internet sources.
In fact, unless you have previously donated to a particular charity, I would be highly suspicious of any charity that contacted you via Email out of the blue.
Discard any Email that is sent to "Undisclosed Recipients." It is almost certainly a scam.
Charities Do Not Send Attachments in Solicitations
Legitimate charities are smart about their solicitations. They know people are unlikely to open emails with attachments and they do not send them.
Do not open any charity Email with an attachment. And, before you click on any hyperlink in a solicitation Email be sure you are not clicking on a virus link.
If you are not sure how to do this, read How to Spot Fake Hyperlinks in Emails.
Fake Charity Website Dead Giveaways
Check out the charity's website before you visit it or click on Email hyperlinks. The fastest and easiest way is to check out the website's domain registration information.
To find out when a website went live, visit www.Whois.sc and enter in the domain name. Whois.sc will not only tell you when the website went live, but where its servers are located. You do not have to create an account, and basic information about websites is free.
Scammers almost always purchase domain names for one year. They expect to get caught and shut down and discard the domain. Whois.sc allows you to look at when the domain registration expires. If it will expire in less than one year, they might be a scam artist.
If you see a charity that just registered a website recently, or, that does not have a domain registered at least a year in advance, and their servers are in some far off foreign country, you might want to consider donating to another cause.
Hope you have a beary safe and great Thursday!
Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.
big bear hug,