Be careful when you donate money toward coronavirus causes

Charity Scam warning
Updated: Mar. 24, 2020 at 1:27 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A lot of us are wondering how we can help during this crisis. Donating to a charity is a great way to do this, but you also have to be really careful. Experts and federal agencies are all sending out alerts about pop-up, FAKE, charities.

Here’s how to keep people from taking advantage of your generosity. If there’s a hurricane or a tornado, or yes, a pandemic like coronavirus, we feel compelled to give in a crisis.

Scammers though are very good at making their “charities” look real. So what can you do?

Number One: Do your research. Go to or use Guidestar to verify that the charity is real. Watch out for GoFundMe’s unless you know the person or group behind it.

You can also give to organizations you may trust in times of disaster or crisis, like the Salvation Army or Red Cross. You could also find a local charity like Feedmore.

“Whatever you do, hesitate to give to something you’ve never given to before, and this sounds really good, but it’s not a recognizable charity. Do your research,” said Barry Moore the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Virginia.

When do you give, pay safely by credit card — it’s much easier to challenge fraud that way. Never pay by gift card or wire transfer. That’s a sure sign of a scam. And if someone reaches out to you to give and is pushy and demanding, that’s another sign something’s not right. Be cautious and trust your gut.

The FBI is also warning of these scams: Especially Phishing Emails.

Look out for phishing emails asking you to verify your personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check from the government. While talk of economic stimulus checks has been in the news cycle, government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails seeking your private information in order to send you money. Phishing emails may also claim to be related to:

  • Charitable contributions
  • General financial relief
  • Airline carrier refunds
  • Fake cures and vaccines
  • Fake testing kits

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