Don’t get scammed! Tips for avoiding donation fraud during disasters

A text on a cell phone is labelled a scamEver get an email promising you a fortune if you provide your personal information, or a threatening phone call demanding money to avoid jail? It can feel like scams are everywhere! Sometimes they feel obvious, others can be extremely sophisticated.

Here are some steps you can take to help protect yourself from a scam.

Avoiding donation scams

Unfortunately, there are people who use the desire for people to help others as an opportunity to scam folks. Here are a few ways to protect yourself when donating:

All registered charities receive a number from the government – you can confirm a charity is registered through the Canadian Revenue Agency’s database.

If you are donating through a website, make sure the link is taking you to the right place – especially if you follow to the donation page through social media. Double-check the URL.

Phishing scams are common through emails and text messages, and they can look extremely legitimate. Here are some things to look for before clicking to donate through a link you receive:
  • A lot of fundraising emails or texts are urgent, especially during a disaster, but be wary of any email or text that is too high pressure or makes it sound like the only opportunity to help is through clicking on a link.
  • Check the email address or phone number the message was sent from.
  • If an email or text message feels suspicious, do not click on any links in it.
  • If you’d like to give, but something feels off about the message you received, go directly to the organization’s website or call their toll-free number to donate.
Many charities, including the Canadian Red Cross, use canvassers to fundraise face-to-face. You can tell a canvasser is legitimate in these ways:
  • They will have a prominently displayed nametag. If for some reason you can’t spot it, they will show it to you.
  • They will not accept cash.
  • Some carry tablets to take down information.
  • They will be knowledgeable about the charity they are representing.
  • You can contact the charity to confirm they have canvassers in your area.
Telefundraising or fundraising through outbound phone calls is another way charities will fundraise. You can confirm the phone number through official websites – including this list of phone numbers on our site. If a call seems suspicious, even if it is coming from a number that appears legitimate, hang up immediately.

We are so grateful to our donors. We want to make sure you feel safe and empowered when giving a donation.

100 years of giving
Why the Canadian Red Cross uses direct mail to fundraise
Why misinformation is dangerous, especially during disasters 


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