It’s that time of year again that many charities are seeking donations to help those in need. Every time I turn on the television or the internet a ad for charity catches my eye. I have several organizations that are near and dear to my heart and I donate to those often but I do find my self being very cautious checking into organizations to make sure they are legitimate. Although I’ve never donated online there are several occasions where I attempted to make a donation and noticed that the website was not secure and decided to make the donation to the local charity instead. When donating online its important that we take the proper precautions in order to keep from being a victim of identity theft.
Many of the charities I donate to are through the school, church, and local charities that I trust. I’m a supporter of the several Cancer research programs and the Red Cross for personal reasons. We were in a fire about 18 years ago and lost 90% of our belongings. Local Red Cross was there to help. Not only with a truck that provided Hot chocolate and blankets for everyone but they also handed out store gift cards and offered to set us up in a hotel for the night until we could find a place to stay. I also have a Aunt who is head of the local Toys for Tots who gather toys for the less fortunate and donate time as well as Toys to help out.
Helpful tips to help you donate safely.
1. Make sure the charity is Legitimate: Always ask questions and be sure that when your donating online that its a legitimate source. Company’s won’t mind you asking questions to be sure that your money is going where they say it is.
2. Use a preloaded Visa/Matercard whenever possible. By using preloaded credit cards ou can be sure that the amount that gets donated is the only amount that goes out. You can never be to safe when using credit card numbers online.
3. Spam or Phishing emails: I never donate through email solicited charities. Most of the emails that I get from solicited charities always land in my spam folder. If it’s in the spam folder I leave it and delete it. As a rule you never want to reveal personal or financial information in emails.
4. Check to make sure site is secure: There are 2 things I look for to make sure a site is secure before I submit my information. That includes paying bills online or purchasing things on line. I look in the url for “s” after http:, looks like this, https: in the url. Also if you look in the lower left hand corner many times you will see a lock symbol this lets you know that the site is secure and it’s safe for you to share your information. If I don’t see these I never submit my credit card info.
5. Donating to phone solicitors: I’ve had quite a bit of phone calls lately asking for donations for several different charities. Many of them share such heart breaking stories. They say you can donate with a credit card or they’ll give you an address to mail in payment. Once I even was offered a self addressed stamped envelop if I wanted to provide my address. NO thanks. For people who are pushy online I ask for a supervisor or a website that I can take a look at for more information or perhaps a home base location address so that I can check into the source a little more closely.
6. Donating to online charities through Paypal is a great way to set up a second barrier to your money. Your not using your direct bank account numbers and this helps to keep those number safe and secure.
7. Correct Spelling of the website or charity: Always check to make sure that the site your on is spelled correctly in the url. Of it’s not get out of there a.s.a.p.
8. Keep an eye on your statements: Always check your credit card statements. Make sure the charges that are on there are yours. Last holiday season I found a charge in early December that was used for a epurchase at kiosk station in a local store. Since I hadn’t been in the store in over 6 months for a visit it immediately caught my eye and I was able to report it and followed up on several other purchases that were made online right after that with my credit card number and was able to report, cancel and get myself a new card before any damage was really done.
National CyberSecurity Awareness Month and National Crime Prevention Month
October is National CyberSecurity Awareness Month and National Crime Prevention Month. This month Lifelock is sharing ways to be safe on both their Facebook, and Twitter page. Follow to learn some great tips on how to donate safely online.
As a Reminder LIFELOCK Sweepstakes is still going strong this month. “Like” LifeLock on Facebook, visit the LifeLock for Life tab, and start playing to learn more about how these life events affect the security of your identity and enter to win some really great prizes. Each correct answer equals an entry into the contest. This sweepstakes will continue throughout 2013 for multiple chances to win. It’s easy and fun to play, and you get to keep answering questions until you get them all right! There are new questions every Monday so be sure to head back answer a few more questions and get your entries. You’ll learn interesting facts and may even win cash and awesome prizes.
disclosure: I’m a Lifelock Ambassador and Thoughts are 100% my own.