One of the most selfless acts we can do for one another is look out for those who might be struggling. There are many incredible charities that serve as the vehicle for extending a helping hand. The credible ones will ensure a smooth transition every time and will never cause you to lose sleep and will work to keep your credit card transactions safe so that you’re able to continue to do good. There are a few things to keep in mind, though, so that your kindness isn’t taken advantage of.
Many people assume that because it’s a charity, it’s legitimate. Unfortunately, there are those that are anything but and instead, are out to scam you out of your hard earned money. Do your research! Find out, via the Better Business Bureau and other consumer watchdog groups, whether there have been any complaints filed. Check out its 501(c)(3) status, too. Also, before keying your Visa card number, make sure the website is safe. Look for the tell-tale signs that let you know your transaction is secure.
Remember Your Budget
While most of us want to do all we can, you don’t want your generosity to overpower your strong budgeting skills. If you go into debt and then can’t cover it, you’ve defeated your purpose. A healthy dose of caution – especially when it comes to credit card debt – is a powerful and wise influence. Just as you avoid impulse purchases while shopping, avoid impulse giving, too. Treat your credit card like you would cash in your pockets and never forget the interest your donations will cost, either.
Not all credit card contributions are tax deductible. First, double check your charity if you’re wanting to write it off at the end of the year. Next, be sure you have a receipt for that contribution. If you donate online, your charity should provide, via email, a receipt of your donation. The IRS may want to see copies of your contributions – especially if any single donation exceeds $250; so cover the bases as you go and you’ll avoid a headache at the end of the year.
Skip the Phone Contributions
These days, with so many scams hatched and thriving, it’s impossible to differentiate legitimate charitable calls from those looking to steal your credit card number. This is why reputable charities will not include phone calls in their charity drives. In fact, it’s rare for a charity to call you at all. Also – and this is where many people make their mistakes – if you receive an email with a link, don’t click it. It might look like you’re being taken to a charitable site, but in fact, you might find yourself on a site that’s designed to look just like your charity of choice. Instead of clicking email links, type the charity’s website address in the address bar – and do this every time.
Monitor Your Statements
Finally, be sure to closely monitor your credit card statements for a few months following your donations. If there have been any questionable charges, you’ll want to get the ball rolling as soon as possible in terms of investigating the charge. The sooner the better, too. Your credit card company will help you from that aspect. The more time that lapses, the more difficult it can be to find the culprits.
A final word: choose the credit card with the lowest APR to make your charitable contributions. Why would you want to pay more interest than necessary? It’s just a smart financial move.
The last thing you or any reputable charity wants you to do is regret your decision. The sad part is the ones who ultimately suffer because of the selfish activities of a few are the ones most in need. If you’ve been burned in the past, you may find yourself less open to giving. Don’t allow the illegal efforts of a few destroy the compassion you feel for others in need. Scammers will always be out there, looking for ways to take from others for their own selfish reasons. A few cautionary moves can keep you from being a victim. The charities and those most in need can only benefit from a bit of caution.