There is a good chance if you are on social media or have an email account that you have been sent a link to a crowdfunding site to support an individual or organization.
GoFundMe.com, YouCaring.com, Kickstarter.com and Fundable.com all are examples of website organizations that collect funds for various reasons. It could be a memorial for an individual, a quick fundraiser for your child’s baseball team or seed money to get that million-dollar idea off the ground and to market.
Several crowdfunding sites are accredited by Better Business Bureau. This does not mean you are immune to being scammed by a crowdfunding campaign.
It is horrible to think that when you are feeling compassion and deep empathy for a family experiencing tragic loss and donate that you may be giving to a scammer who took advantage and used that tragedy to profit for themselves. It happens and is one of the lowest forms of scamming.
BBB wants you to know these things when considering donating to a crowdfunding site:
Make it your business to know. Don’t assume the recipient knows the account is being established and funds are being collected in their name. If you do not know the named beneficiary personally, ask someone who does to verify the funds are going directly to the mentioned recipient.
The more information, the better. If you do choose to give to a crowdsourcing campaign look for deep and specific information. Technology and social media are the perfect weapons for scammers. Personal photos, birthdates and social media posts that are public allow them to establish a profile that is very believable. Videos, bios, continual updates and links can be better indicators that the campaign is legitimate.
Consider other options. If you are at all unsure of the campaign, think of other ways you can give. Write a check to the family directly, ask if there is an account set up in their name at a local financial institution or consider donating to a well-known organization that will use our dollars to support the cause more efficiently.
Take the time to make sure your support is going where you want it to. You can report fraudulent accounts to the crowdfunding sites and you can help others by reporting scams to the BBB Scam Tracker.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.