Scammers & Notre Dame Donations

 by Rosario Méndez

Following last week’s devastating fire that destroyed much of the famous and historically important Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, fundraising efforts have begun. Many generous people may decide to donate money toward rebuilding efforts – and scammers know that. They’re ready to take donations, too, so here are some things to consider before you give to an organization or a crowdfunding project:

  1. Research the organization first. Search online for the name of the organization plus the word “complaint” or “scam.” Read what others say the about the organization. These organizations can also help your research.

  2. It’s important to ask questions. If you get a call from someone asking for money to help rebuild the Cathedral, ask them how exactly your money will be used. Do some research before donating to any organization you are not familiar with.
  3. Crowdfunding sites may not monitor how donations are spent. Research any charity before you give. Online fundraisers should tell you who gets your donation and how your money gets to the charity. They should also tell you if they keep any part of your donation as a fee. These details should be clear and easy to find without hunting through fine print. If the details are not clear, consider taking your donation money elsewhere.
  4. Donations to foreign organizations generally are not tax deductible. If tax deductions are important to you, make sure the group is established in the U.S. Check the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search to see if your donation would be tax deductible. Remember that donations to individuals, like in crowdfunding sites, are not tax deductible.

For more tips on how to donate wisely and avoid scams go to FTC.gov/Charity. Check out the article Before Giving to a Charity for specific tips on donating through social media and how to handle calls from telemarketers.

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