personal finance

Beirut Explosion: Avoid Charity Scams

With the recent explosion in Beirut kicking off calls for aid, beware of scammers trying to take advantage.

After any disaster, many Americans open their hearts and wallets. During the pandemic alone, giving had reached $10.2 billion (by early May), with $6 billion of that coming from the U.S., according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. 

But this generosity is often preyed on by scammers. If you're planning to donate in the wake of the recent explosion that rocked the port of Beirut, it’s important to do your due diligence. Fake charities and victims tend to pop up overnight, waiting to take advantage of folks' generosity. Here’s how you can protect yourself. 

Vet the charity. When in doubt, donate to well-known charities. If you’re unsure of a charity’s standing, check reviews on watchdog websites such as Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. And keep your perspective open on those reviews, too. Don’t rely solely on one person’s review. Read through the charity’s website and search the news to see if it’s been involved in problems. 

Social media and crowdfunding. If you’re seeing more relief requests via social media, be wary of handing over your cash. Check to see if the charity or cause listed has a working website. Do not click on links sent to your email, or in social media messages and comments. If there's a name listed, search the name, then go directly to the web site.

Be particularly wary of new organizations or ad-hoc fundraisers run through websites such as GoFundMe. While GoFundMe guarantees that funds will go to the beneficiary, not the campaign organizer, and will refund up to $1,000 to donors if there is evidence of misuse, the cause itself could be fake, so always cross check the information across various platforms. 

And last but not least, don’t feel pressured to give if someone is badgering you. Do not give cash, gift cards or do a wire transfer. It’s best to pay by credit card or check. Remember to keep receipts of your donations to charities that are tax deductible. When charities confirm your gift, they should indicate how much of the donations is tax deductible. (Note that donations to GoFundMe campaigns, when they're collected for a private individual or company, are not deductible.)

Most Popular

Planning to Sell Your Home in Retirement? Downsize Costs Along With Space
Budgeting

Planning to Sell Your Home in Retirement? Downsize Costs Along With Space

In this hot real estate market, consider the costs of buying and selling a house along with the expenses associated with your new digs.
November 13, 2020
What Biden Will Do: 24 Policy Plays to Expect From the Next Administration
Politics

What Biden Will Do: 24 Policy Plays to Expect From the Next Administration

The Kiplinger Letter forecasts President-Elect Joe Biden’s biggest priorities -- and the likelihood of progress on them.
November 19, 2020
The 13 Best Healthcare Stocks to Buy for 2021
Kiplinger's Investing Outlook

The 13 Best Healthcare Stocks to Buy for 2021

Most of the best healthcare stocks for 2021 will have some sort of ties to COVID, whether it's producing a vaccine or cure, or benefiting from the vir…
November 20, 2020

Recommended

Tune Up Your Finances for a Better 2021
Financial Planning

Tune Up Your Finances for a Better 2021

Resolve to start the New Year prepared for whatever life delivers.
November 25, 2020
I’m Not a Millionaire, But I Just Gave $250,000 to Morehouse College: Here’s How (and Why)
personal finance

I’m Not a Millionaire, But I Just Gave $250,000 to Morehouse College: Here’s How (and Why)

You don’t have to be a millionaire to make a generous charitable donation to a cause that means the world to you, just like I did. Here’s the strategy…
November 23, 2020
10 Things to Be Thankful for in 2020
personal finance

10 Things to Be Thankful for in 2020

The pandemic may have kept us inside and apart, but that doesn't mean there isn't any good to be found in 2020.
November 21, 2020
Be a Budgeting Expert: How to Track Spending with a Detailed Budget
Budgeting

Be a Budgeting Expert: How to Track Spending with a Detailed Budget

Want to go beyond the Envelope Budget? Try this free budgeting spreadsheet to draw up your own plan and get a firm grip on where your money is going. …
November 19, 2020