- When in doubt, don't. Don't open unsolicited (SPAM) email, click on links in an unsolicited email, or respond to messages from sources you don't recognize seeking email donations. Only open attachments from known senders.
- Make sure you're giving to a valid charity. Beware of groups using names similar to larger, respected organizations. Use sites such as the American Institute of Philanthropy's www.charitywatch.org to make sure the charity is legitimate. Even though a group is listed when checking such sources, make your donation by going to the charity's website rather than through an e-mail message. Scammers are getting very good at replicating donation sites so that you really think you are donating to the real charity.
- Ask questions. How will your donation be used? What percentage of the contribution goes directly to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts? Is this an experienced organization? Get the charity's full name, website, address and phone number. Don't contribute to any charity that won't answer your questions or refuses to provide information.
- Take steps to protect your identity. Only provide credit card numbers on secure websites; be careful when sharing credit card numbers or any personal information over the phone. Know who you're speaking with and who may be listening to your call - or who's looking over your shoulder when online in public places.
- Consider your payment method. Checks and credit cards are better than cash and help charities avoid tracking and security problems and your statements are proof of your donation. However, don't make checks payable to an individual or allow anyone to make a contribution on your behalf.
Donate Wisely - Guidelines For Giving To Hurricane Sandy Relief From The Illinois CPA Society
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