Avoiding Donation Scams and Helping Pets of the Homeless
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The holidays and winter can be hard for the pets of the homeless. With the cold weather and potential for health issues like hypothermia and frostbite, the homeless and their pets need help more than ever during this season, especially as poverty and homelessness continue to rise in the US. Even though the holiday giving season is over, you can still donate to charities that help the pets of the homeless during the holidays and over the winter.
If you’re looking for a trustworthy source of information about nonprofit reliability, GuideStar is an excellent place to check out the transparency of a nonprofit. You simply must register with your name and contact information in order to view an organization via their site, at no charge. (For the proverbial record, Pets of the Homeless was awarded the highest ranking, Platinum.)
However, you may have heard about the prevalence of charity donation scams. These scams have been widespread and cheat generous people out of the money they’d intended to go to good causes. But don’t let these scams deter you from making a difference in causes you believe in. Instead, consider the following tips that can help you to avoid these scams when you make a donation.
Understand How to Spot a Scam
Familiarizing yourself with the types of potential donation scams you might encounter can help you to avoid falling for these scams. If you’re thinking of donating to a charity, start by researching that charity online. Look for reviews of the charity and check it against a database like Charity Navigator to make sure that it’s legitimate and that it has a good reputation.
If a charity approaches you and asks for a donation, you’ll need to be careful. Some scammers will call, claiming to be from a charity, and try to pressure you into quickly deciding to donate over the phone. Scammers who call you may even change their caller ID so that it appears that they’re calling from a legitimate charity. Scammers may also thank you for a donation that you didn’t make, guilting you into making a donation to their fake charity.
You may receive email requests for donations from charities, but you need to treat these with caution. The emails may not actually be from charities and may be cleverly disguised scams. In some cases, these emails come from scam charities that aren’t actually charities at all. In other cases, the emails appear to come from legitimate charities, but the link you’ll click to make a donation will direct you to a page that isn’t sending those donations to the charity.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t donate to a charity that you receive an email appeal from. Many charities use email to request donations, especially around the holidays. For an added level of safety, don’t click on any links that you receive through email. Instead, search for the charity on Google and make a donation directly through its website.
When it comes to making a donation, there are a number of ways to help protect yourself from scams. If you want to maximize your safety when making an online donation, first check to make sure that the website is secure by looking for “HTTPS” in the search bar. This indicates that the site is encrypting data, which helps to protect the financial information that you provide.
It’s a good idea to only use a credit card for your online donation, rather than providing your checking account information. If any fraud occurs, the credit card company should be able to stop those charges and get your money back. Be sure to monitor your credit card statements and alert your credit card company of any unauthorized charges.
Even if your initial donation goes smoothly, it’s still possible for hackers to hack the charity and access personal information associated with your donation. Because of that risk, avoid giving out details like your social security number and birthdate when making a donation.
Find Additional Ways to Help
Even if you’re afraid of donating money to organizations or fundraisers because of scams, you can still make other types of donations that are equally as important. In fact, with nearly 3.5 million homeless people in the country, and between five and 10% of them owning pets, small donations can make a big difference for the pets of the homeless. Rather than giving to an organization, consider giving directly to the homeless and their pets. Consider giving important items like:
- Pet food
- Leashes and collars
- Flea and tick preventative
- Gift cards to groomers or pet stores
If you’d like holiday giving to have an even greater impact, consider getting others involved, too. Hold a food drive to gather food for the homeless and for their pets, and consider encouraging people to donate pet supplies, too. You can then donate everything raised during the drive to a local homeless shelter or organization that supports the homeless since these operations will know how to best distribute the items to people and pets in need.
You can also volunteer at a local animal shelter to make a difference in the lives of homeless animals. Most shelters can always use some extra help caring for animals, walking dogs, photographing pets, performing administrative tasks, and cleaning the facility. Before you volunteer, you’ll need to fill out an application and may need to attend an orientation. Volunteering can be a rewarding way to know that you’re making a difference in the lives of pets in need.
There are many ways to help the pets of the homeless. Whether you choose to make a monetary donation or take another route to support these animals, you can enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve assisted pets who truly needed the help.