The holiday season is a great time to spread cheer, but it's also an opportunity for fraudsters to spoil your goodwill with scams to which Ebenezer Scrooge would say, "bah humbug." Consider the following tips to protect your gift-giving endeavors.
Gift Card Purchases
- Inspect cards for signs of tampering.
- Avoid buying cards from the classifieds or community bulletin boards.
- Register cards (making it easier to check balances or report lost cards).
- Beware of free offers.
- Check for inactivity fees (not valid before 1-year anniversary of activation).
- Distinguish between retail- and bank-issued cards and associated benefits.
- Resist pressure to give money on the spot. Legitimate charities will gladly accept your donation after you've done your research and received any requested information.
- Look for details concerning the charity's mission, program specifics, and current financials on its website or request the information from the charity before donating.
- Ensure the charity adheres to quality standards. The Better Business Bureau offers 20 standards for Charity Accountability.
- Determine if the charity is registered. Registration is required in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Nearly all non-church charities with more than $50K in annual income must file financial information with the Internal Revenue Service.
- Inquire how your donation will be used and what percent will be spent on the actual program.
- Check an organization's tax status with the IRS. Tax exempt doesn't mean tax deductible.