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Tips for Safe Online Giving

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The Internet has revolutionized everything from shopping, to banking and charitable giving. The Internet has enabled donors like you to contribute money quickly and conveniently to most of your favorite charitable organizations. Each year, millions of dollars are raised for charities through online giving.

As you become more comfortable with financial transactions online, it is still important to remain vigilant so that you protect yourself and ensure that the money you donate to charity gets to the intended organization. If you regularly make charitable donations online or are considering giving to charity online, the Charities Review Council recommends the following smart online giving tips to minimize the chance of potential problems:

  • Verify the Charity: Whether you give online or off-line, always verify the charity by researching the organization at the Council’s online list of reviewed charities to ensure it is a legitimate organization. The online Giving Guide also offers information about the organization, its mission and programs, so that you can be sure of what your money supports.
  • Beware of Phony Web Sites: Look closely at the web address of the charity. Scammers may use Web addresses that appear similar but not exact to the official Web address of an organization to deceive users. The Council’s online list of reviewed charities also lists the URL address of organizations as part of their charity review reports with the Council.
  • Donate through a Web site that is secured: To verify your session is secure, look for “https:” instead of “http:” in the URL address line, as well as the padlock icon on your browser's status bar.
  • Protect Your Confidential Information: If you receive unsolicited e-mail appeals, do not click on links asking for your confidential information such as passwords, credit card numbers or bank account numbers. This fraudulent attempt to acquire sensitive information is known as "phishing."
  • Beware of Attachments: Do not open attachments from unsolicited e-mail appeals. These attachments may contain viruses that can harm your computer system. Discard these e-mails by hitting the delete key.
  • Look for Privacy Policies: Check the web site or ask the organization for a privacy policy to learn how your information will be safe guarded and used.

If in doubt, contact the charity directly before providing your information online. By taking charge and taking steps to protect yourself, you can enjoy a safe and secure on-line giving experience.